Cleveland firefighter in Zimbabwe mission

A Cleveland firefighter will set off for Zimbabwe later this month to spend time passing on his skills to the Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Service and other fire and rescue services in southern Zimbabwe.

Watch Manager Mike Dayson, who is based at Redcar Community Fire Station, will form part of a 14-strong team from fire and rescue services throughout the UK with support from students from the University of Central Lancashire.

Known as Operation Florian, the humanitarian charity will also be taking over a wide range of used firefighting equipment including three appliances, protective clothing, uniform, rescue equipment, breathing apparatus, along with decontamination, first aid and communications equipment.

Mike Dayson said: “This is the third time that Operation Florian will be visiting Zimbabwe and although Cleveland Fire Brigade has donated old uniforms previously, it will be the first time the Brigade will be represented.

“I am very much looking forward to the trip and there is a full programme to train local firefighters as well as educating local communities about key safety messages.”

Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We are delighted to join forces once again with other fire and rescue services in the UK to offer support to our counterparts in Zimbabwe.

“Clearly, the UK fire and rescue services are much more advanced than in Zimbabwe and if we can put our equipment to good use to help save lives, that can only be a good thing.

“The visit and training in Zimbabwe also provides invaluable experience for the UK firefighters involved and I am sure that Mike Dayson from Redcar Community Fire Station, who is part of Operation Florian, will learn a great deal during his three weeks in Zimbabwe.”

Other fire and rescue services involved in the visit include Grampian, West Sussex, East Sussex and Lancashire.

Mr Dayson continued: “The large majority of the equipment we are taking over is surplus to requirements in the UK, but we have been fundraising to purchase additional equipment.

“The people in Zimbabwe cannot afford to purchase new fire engines and equipment and they really appreciate the help and support from the UK and what we are doing to save people’s lives.

“One of the training sessions will focus on dealing with road traffic accidents. This is because over a two-month period recently there were 54 deaths on the roads within 30 miles of Bulawayo.”

Other training sessions with Zimbabwe firefighters include a breathing apparatus course, how incidents are managed, fire safety and conducting fire investigations.

For further information about Operation Florian, visit www.operationflorian.com

To help keep you and your family safe from fire, the Brigade provides free Home Fire Safety Visits and will fit smoke alarms if needed. Call 01429 874063 to arrange a visit to your home and you will receive specific fire safety advice for you and your family.