Wednesday, August 22, 2012
With the summer comes the fire risks and if the fire starts someone has to put them out.
Bright red trucks, Canadair water bombers and helicopters all take up the challenge of saving a parched land from an old enemy; fire.
With an economic and political situation which could be described as combustible the landscape is beginning to match it. The sun’s heat has tanned the diminished number of tourists but has made the land tinder dry. Whether there is economic and political stability, whether or not the tourists come, the fear of conflagration remains.
Greece has a full time fire brigade but during the hot, dry and windy summer months the risk of a large outbreak may even be too big for them to tackle alone. Volunteer fire fighters will, at a moment’s notice, stop what they are doing and take up the challenge of saving their land, homes, neighbours and families. Everyone who lives here appreciate their sacrifices and dedication.
The Aegean island of Samos was deeply scarred by huge fires in the summer of 2000, with a smoke plume which was even visible from space. There are regular reports of discarded cigarettes, broken bottles, an accident and even arson once again threatening to unleash an inferno. The cause of some fires is never known and to those who respond, largely irrelevant. They have to be put out, no matter how they were started and the faster the better.
The volunteer fire-fighters of Chora will receive a fire truck donated by the Schwarz family, the patrons of the Samos Young Artists Festival. The truck was originally used by the volunteer fire-fighters of Kirchberg in Austria, who have renovated the truck, re-equipped it and are driving it to Samos. The truck should arrive on Thursday 23rd August.
The truck will then be handed over to the Chora Volunteer Fire-fighters on Saturday 25th August at 8pm. The handover will take place at Chora School where there will be food and drinks available as well as dancing to celebrate the arrival of one more weapon in the yearly battle with wildfires.
Even as this truck arrives volunteers from Samos Island are on the neighbouring island of Chios, risking their lives to put out huge wildfires there. Reports are emerging that these fires may have been caused deliberately in an act of arson. Whatever the reason the fire-fighters deserve our support and profits from food and drink sales on Saturday go towards the volunteers operating costs.
This type of co-operation whether it be multi-national, inter-community or local show what can be achieved without the need for posturing but a desire to get the job done. Necessity means that people from all backgrounds can pull together and do their best. At the end of the day it is the crews who will go out, will take the risks, will face down the fires and do what needs to be done.
There is still a place for Greek heroes.