2nd Delegation of Greek Firefighters to Train at Union Fire District Training Ground in Rhode Island

For the second time in two years, a contingent of volunteer firefighters from Greece will have the opportunity to learn strategies and tactics utilized during Live Burn Evolutions being held at the South Kingstown (RI) training ground of the Union Fire District (UFD). The firefighters arrive Sunday, October 20, 2013 and will spend the week exchanging ideas, tactics, and strategies.

With the assistance of the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) International Relations Committee and financial sponsorship from the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leaders of the Union Fire District have been planning these special training sessions with the Union of Hellenic Fire Service Volunteers. The NVFC and the UFD are committed to fostering relationships and encouraging idea-exchange with the international fire service community and have met with firefighters and fire service leaders from many countries.

NVFC board members Mike Bird (MA) and Kevin Quinn (RI), along with NVFC Executive Director Heather Schafer, have been coordinating the upcoming visit and training evolutions since the first delegation of Greek firefighters trained in Rhode Island in October 2011. These training events provide a unique opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and provide insight and enhanced knowledge of firefighting operations to participants.

Under the direction of UFD Chief Robert Perry and Deputy Chief Quinn, members of the UFD will demonstrate fireground tactics and escort the delegation through live fire training exercises including fire suppression, ventilation, ladders, and forcible entry. This type of advanced hands-on training is not typically available to firefighters in Greece. The delegation consists of volunteer fire service executives, volunteer fire station commanders and volunteer firefighters from the Hellenic Fire Service, which is the national fire and rescue service in Greece.

AHEPA, the largest and oldest association of Greek Americans and Philhellenes in the country, will be providing transportation, lodging, transfers, and meals for the visiting firefighters.

“We have a history of lending support to the Union of Hellenic Fire Service Volunteers, when our organization provided financial support of Operation Hellenic Expedition I back in 2011,” said Dr. John Grossomanides, Supreme President of the Order of AHEPA. Incoming President of AHEPA Anthony Kouzounis of Houston, TX is looking forward to welcoming the delegation this fall.

The relationship between the UFD, the NVFC, and the Hellenic Fire Service began in 2010 when Perry, Bird, and Quinn met with Makis Tsiougris, the President of the Union of Hellenic Fire Service Volunteers, the organization that represents the 2,000 volunteer firefighters in Greece. In addition to discussing the fire service in both countries, Tsiougris participated in a live fire training exercise at the UFD facility. It was this connection that led to the idea of bringing a contingent of Greek firefighters to the United States to network and train.

The Union of Hellenic Fire Service Volunteers has since joined the NVFC as an International Member. The NVFC is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services in the U.S. The NVFC has worked to foster relationships and idea-exchange with the international fire service community, including the recent formation of its International Relations Committee and International level of membership. Over the past few years, the NVFC has met with fire service leaders from Australia, Canada, and countries in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America. It is the intention of the NVFC to create strong, ongoing relationships to foster good will and develop an increased understanding of the needs, successes, challenges, and similarities between the fire service communities. Learn more at www.nvfc.org.

For additional information about this training event, please contact Chief Robert Perry, Union Fire District of South Kingstown, 401-255-5923 or Deputy Chief Kevin D. Quinn, Union Fire District of South Kingstown, 401-255-5927.