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Greece’s new SNF Fire Corps Training Center Nears Completion

ATHENS – Through each of the devastating fires that has ravaged Greece, tragically claiming lives, wiping out homes and livelihoods, and decimating natural areas, the members of the Hellenic Fire Corps have been there on the front lines, making a superhuman effort under adverse conditions.

Recognizing that the people who respond to every call for help need help too, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) has allocated €41 million in grants to support the work of the Fire Corps over the past 26 years. Following the disastrous fires of 2018, we committed €21 million to the construction of the new SNF Fire Corps Training Center in Nea Makri, Attica, the procurement of thousands of pieces of protective equipment, and the implementation of emergency response training programs in Greece and abroad.

Construction on the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center is now in its final stages, and completion of the project is expected before the end of 2022. The Training Center was created on the site of the former U.S. military base in Nea Makri, on Marathonos Avenue, and covers more than nine acres. The Center encompasses 20 buildings with office and instructional spaces, lecture and training rooms, and outdoor training structures, which include a training course for urban search and rescue, live fire training props, and a climbing wall/building façade for advanced training in specialized rescue techniques like mountaineering and apartment-fire rescue.

Since SNF’s establishment in 1996, its support for the Fire Corps has included the procurement of a Super Puma helicopter, which has been in use for many years and during the recent devastating fires, as well as the purchase of 15 firefighting vehicles. It has also included the construction of a training center for the 1st Special Disaster Response Units (EMAK) and assistance for volunteer firefighters on the islands of Cephalonia and Samos. SNF grants funded a long-standing Fire Corps staff training program on forest fires in collaboration with the British Columbia Wildfire Service in Canada; upon their return, program participants trained their colleagues in Greece.

In addition to strengthening the Fire Corps’ preparedness for future emergencies, SNF also helps provide relief and aid recovery in the aftermath of major disasters, like the fires that recently swept across northern Evia. Immediately following the fires, we announced the Fire Relief Initiative for Northern Evia and organized a series of visits and discussions with the local community to better understand the situation and hear from residents themselves about the problems they face on the ground and their real needs. SNF committed approximately €3.6 million in grants, in collaboration with around a dozen local and international organizations, for a variety of programs and activities to strengthen the local economy, to provide psychological and social support for local residents, and to support forest firefighting and flood prevention. Many of these programs are in progress now and will continue in the coming months.

On the forthcoming completion of the SNF Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center, SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos, commented, “Forest fires and other forms of danger and disaster that threaten human life, property, and nature will, it seems certain, be a concern more and more often moving forward and, unfortunately, will most likely bring tragic consequences in the future. Seeing the crucial contribution of people who risk their lives to fight on the front lines, we feel a moral obligation to contribute, to the best of our ability, to ensure that they have access to high-quality training, educational resources, and equipment. Our support today and over time is a small token of our deep gratitude for all that the Hellenic Fire Corps has offered and will continue to offer to the country and to all of our fellow human beings.”

Greek Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Christos Stylianides said, “The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center in Nea Makri, Attica, systematically and substantially upgrades the training that members of the Fire Corps receive. This ambitious and extremely necessary project became a reality thanks to the grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. I would therefore like to thank the Co-President and the members of the Board of Directors for the valuable contribution of the Foundation, which proves, once again, that SNF is a shining example of social responsibility and contribution. For us, quality training for our firefighters and the use of scientific knowledge is a top priority. The SNF Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center meets the strictest standards by offering the high level of training that is a necessary condition for our firefighters to be able to respond even more effectively to the many great challenges. Efforts such as these from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation give us the strength to collectively continue the great effort to shield our country against the effects of the climate crisis.

The Chief of the Hellenic Fire Corps, Lieutenant General Alexios Rapanos, said, “With great appreciation towards SNF, in view of the completion of the new Training Center, we must thank you publicly for your tangible support and recognition of the work of Greek firefighters. This state-of-the-art training center, designed according to international standards, will be one of the largest and most comprehensive in the field of firefighting and rescue at the European level and will enhance the existing training process, acting as a force multiplier for the effectiveness of the Fire Corps while, at the same time, constituting an essential parameter for increasing the level of safety for both staff and volunteers. With this contribution you are once again demonstrating your commitment to the strengthening of the civil protection sector of our country and the Fire Corps and you are fulfilling your charitable purpose. Thank you very much.”

Source: SNF

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