In this context we join forces with the Athina I. Martinou Foundation and John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation to support the program launched in April 2022 that works alongside the Non-Profit Foundation Desmos, WWF Greece and HIGGS (Higher Incubator Giving Growth & Sustainability), offering support to volunteer forest firefighter teams across Greece through to 2024.
The support initiative focuses on two parallel actions:
a) the material support of 50 volunteer teams across the country in equipment, which will be selected on the basis of specific evaluation criteria.
The first phase of the program has been successfully completed and 21 volunteer teams have already received the material equipment, thus significantly upgrading the safety and effectiveness of their total of 749 front end volunteers. The force’s enhancement will be completed with additional equipment deliveries to 29 more volunteer teams, before the beginning of the next firefighting season, which starts in May 2023.
149 highly committed volunteer teams were invited to participate in the program, of which 98 responded to the evaluation process. For the selection of the total of 50 teams, WWF Greece followed a proven methodology, through questionnaires, personal interviews and on-site visits, to fully understand the teams’ scope of action, as well as to accurately capture their equipment needs. By using this methodology, WWF ensured an in-depth analysis and showcased, through specific criteria, the most vulnerable areas and teams.
b) forest fire-fighting training by means of specialized workshops.
The training program concerns all volunteer forest firefighter teams that operate in all 13 Regions of the country, placing emphasis on specific areas with a history of forest fires and a strong presence of volunteer groups, and it is carried out by qualified experts with many years of experience in the field.
The 1st round of training workshops took place between April and May of 2022, with the participation of 53 volunteer groups from various regions of the country (Attica, Samos, South Aegean, Western Greece, Peloponnese), followed by the 2nd round, in January of 2023. The goal is to provide specialized knowledge to the volunteer forest firefighters, regarding the prevention and handling of the forest fires, significantly improving safety during their action in the field. Additionally, through these workshops, we aim to strengthen the understanding of the particularly important role of the volunteers’ action in protecting the natural regeneration of forest vegetation after a fire, as the protection of these areas from new fires is imperative for many years following after the disaster.