Our thoughts are with the family of volunteer firefighter Vasilis Filoras, who lost his life while fighting the fires, with everyone who has been injured or hospitalized, and with all those who have lost their homes and livelihoods. We are deeply saddened by the destruction of huge forested areas that act as “green lungs” for Greece and are home to a diversity of wildlife—much of which is threatened by the fires.
Once again, those on the front lines of the fires—firefighters, volunteers, and people joining together to save neighbors, animals, houses, and whole communities—have become the everyday heroes of a dystopian reality.
In the face of this national catastrophe, SNF felt urgently compelled to act. A new €15 million SNF grant will contribute to immediate relief efforts for those affected by this year’s fires, as well as to long-term firefighting preparedness. Discussions with the relevant Greek entities on how best to contribute are already underway, and more information on developments will be available soon.
This emergency support builds on a number of SNF grants made over the last 25 years with the aim of protecting people and our natural environment from the dangers of fire. Recognizing the importance of long-term planning, material assistance, and cooperation across every sector of society, SNF has allocated over €44 million towards firefighting, out of a total of €1.7 billion in grants made in Greece since 1996.
One of the first SNF grants in this area, in 2001, was for the procurement of a Super Puma helicopter. In the last two weeks, this aircraft has flown more than 50 hours, contributing to the work of the Fire Corps by deploying a firefighting bucket and transporting firefighters.
We are comforted that firefighters and volunteers have been aided in the performance of their duties by thousands of pieces of essential personal protective equipment delivered as part of a €25 million SNF grant made three years ago to the Hellenic Fire Corps. As part of the same grant, SNF recently announced the beginning of construction on the new Firefighting Training Center for the Hellenic Fire Corps in Nea Makri, Attica. We hope that the training component of this same grant will move forward soon, overcoming the initially slow pace of implementation and local hurdles.
It is important that we all move swiftly to help affected areas of Greece start down the road to recovery. Every one of us must do our part so that we can be prepared to prevent disasters like this in the future.
From 1996 to today: SNF grants to the Hellenic Fire Corps
Since the beginning of its grantmaking activities in 1996, SNF has regularly supported the Hellenic Fire Corps through grants totaling over €44 million. These include the aforementioned grants for the procurement of personal protective equipment, the construction of a Firefighting Training Center, and the implementation of training programs, as well as the purchase of the Super Puma helicopter that has aided firefighting efforts for a number of years. Moreover, SNF has supported the Hellenic Fire Corps in the purchase of 15 firefighting vehicles and the construction of a training center for the 1st Special Disaster Response Units (EMAK), and has also provided equipment for volunteer firefighters on the islands of Cephalonia and Samos. In addition, SNF has supported a long-standing Fire Corps staff-training program on forest fires, with participants spending time with the British Columbia Wildfire Service in Canada then training their colleagues in Greece upon return.