As Sarajevo, Belgrade and most recently Baghdad came under fire from aerial bombardment, mortars and artillery, what seemed to prevail was anarchy. Yet against all odds, firefighters continued to respond to the needs of the people, even as bombs fell around them, to limit the damage being done to...
To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
As Sarajevo, Belgrade and most recently Baghdad came under fire from aerial bombardment, mortars and artillery, what seemed to prevail was anarchy. Yet against all odds, firefighters continued to respond to the needs of the people, even as bombs fell around them, to limit the damage being done to their cities and to rescue victims of the attacks. In Kosovo, Albanian and Serbian firefighters were attacked by mobs for working together to put out fires. In Kashmir, on the Pakistani-Indian border, Hindu firefighters faced hostility for wanting to extinguish fires in Moslem homes and vice versa.
Photos courtesy of FRDP
Chief Robert Triozzi of Italy and Assistant Chief Francesco Rossetti of South Africa with Iraqi firefighters at a truck fire on a Baghdad thoroughfare.
In many parts of the world firefighters perform their duties in precarious conditions. They must fight fires in below-zero temperatures without gloves or boots. They must respond to hazmat incidents without breathing apparatus. They must intervene with obsolete equipment for which there are no spare parts. Often, they do not have any proper training or even uniforms identifying them as firefighters.
An initiative has been undertaken to help these firefighters. It is the Fire Rescue Development Program (FRDP), a non-profit, international, non-governmental organization (NGO). It is comprised of firefighters from nine countries on four continents with headquarters in Rome and offices in Chicago and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The FRDP was created to assist firefighters in the developing world and in war-torn countries. Help is provided in the way of training, supplying equipment, reorganization of fire services on the governmental level, administrative and managerial consultancy, and to serve as a beacon of hope in providing firefighters with a sense of dignity and pride.
The FRDP is the only fire-rescue NGO recognized by the United Nations, and FRDP members are the only firefighters in the world to serve as delegates to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Within the UN, the FRDP is most active in promoting sustainable development for the fire services of poorer nations and in disaster-impact reduction. Sustainable development provides assistance that allows the local firefighters to grow and evolve, and to implement programs that will continue long after international aid leaves town – in short, programs that help firefighters help themselves.
The FRDP’s successes have included solutions that are low tech, simple, practical applicable locally. The organization handles problems by using the experience of firefighters from many parts of the world and from many different cultures. What’s understood is that what may seem perfectly normal in Boston, Milan or Tokyo may not work in Bujumbura, Managua or Tashkent.
Photos courtesy of FRDP
Chief Robert Triozzi of Italy is interviewed by Iraqi and International press at a junkyard fire in Baghdad where ordnance exploded during firefighting operations.
In underdeveloped countries, the FRDP works to make local firefighters efficient with the resources that are available to them. The local firefighters work with what is familiar to them and then build on that within the contexts of their own realities and culture. It makes no sense to try and implement standards of the 21st century in a country where the technology is 50 or more years behind. It makes even less sense to try to replicate the London Fire Brigade or FDNY in a country where the average firefighter may not be able to read or write, where building codes do not exist, and the local government has no money for equipment, uniforms or even miserable salaries.
Disaster-impact reduction is an area where the FRDP has been a voice for firefighters to governments around the world by its presence in the United Nations. When UN committees meet to discuss how the impacts of disasters can be reduced, attention is given to areas involving the military, civil protection and specialized groups. It has been the FRDP that presses for governments to support their fire services in order to have a real impact on reducing the effects of calamities.