ATHENS – It’s been three years since deadly wildfires swept through the Attica region of Greece, exacting a terrible toll in human life. In the wake of this tragedy, seeking a way to help avert similar disasters, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) announced a grant of €25 million to support the people who have the difficult task of fighting wildfires.
Since then, two major components of the grant have been completed: €6.5 million worth of essential personal protective equipment has been provided for members of the country’s Fire Corps, and training programs have been designed for firefighters, representatives from local government, and members of the public. Some of the trainings have already taken place, and the remaining training programs will be offered in the coming months.
The third and final element of the SNF grant, the construction of a new training center for the Hellenic Fire Corps, is now on track to be completed. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center will be created through conversion of a former U.S. military base in Nea Makri, in Attica, Greece. The new training center is designed both to meet the specific needs of the Fire Corps in Greece and to accommodate international best practices in firefighting and rescue training. The center’s facilities will include office and instructional spaces, indoor training spaces, living quarters, and outdoor training structures. The outdoor structures will include a training course for urban search and rescue, a burn building for live fire training, and a climbing wall/building façade for advanced training in specialized rescue techniques like mountaineering and apartment-fire rescue. Twenty buildings on the 3.83-hectare property will be completely renovated.
Following completion of technical studies by Betaplan Architects & Planners, issuance of the building permit, and a tender process to select a contractor to build the new training center, Ballian Techniki, the company chosen by the Fire Corps to carry out the project, has now started preliminary work on the site. According to the planned timeline, the SNF Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center will be completed within 12 months.
SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos said, “Following the devastating fires that ravaged Greece in 2018, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) announced a €25 million grant to the Hellenic Fire Corps. Our goal was—and remains—to contribute to the difficult work of the people at the frontlines of firefighting, strengthening both the infrastructure available to help them carry out their mission and the human resources of the Fire Corps. With the construction, now underway, of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) – Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center, the essential personal protective equipment which we helped provide firefighters last summer, and support for training programs for both firefighters and the public, we are grateful to have been able to contribute to this important effort.”
Nikos Hardalias, Greece’s Deputy Minister for Civil Protection, said, “The grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for the creation of the new SNF Hellenic Fire Corps Training Center in Nea Makri is an invaluable contribution toward substantially upgrading civil protection and firefighting services in our country. As work begins today, we are seeing the beginning of an ambitious and vital project. Through this effort, the Fire Corps will have, starting in 2022, a state-of-the-art training center designed in line with the highest international standards, covering all aspects of its multifaceted and demanding mission. The climate crisis we are facing—with more and more adverse impacts and greater risk for people and the environment—necessitates that we be even better prepared and even better trained. We need to steel ourselves, replacing fear with knowledge. The new center will meet all our needs for training our firefighters in both theory and practice as well as for training our volunteers and the public, and it has the potential to become a training hub for all of Southeastern Europe. Through this grant, SNF is once again reaffirming the undeniable magnitude of its contribution to society and the vision and thoughtfulness of its team about what is important and needs to be safeguarded in life.”
The Commander of the Hellenic Fire Corps, Lieutenant General Stefanos Kolokouris, said, “A longstanding need of the Fire Corps is being met through the creation of a modern training center that will facilitate the Fire Corps’ experiential training methods. For us, this is an important part of the professional training process. As the Chief of the Fire Corps, I express my gratitude for this grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which has always supported us in our difficult and demanding work.”