The main elements of reforming and transformation of the fire fighting and rescue system with due regard for the decentralisation processes and establishment of capable communities include the following: improvement of the system for emergency response by divisions of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, substantial expansion of the network of local fire brigades, as well as the involvement of volunteers for ensuring fire protection.
Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov presented the concept of reforming the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. The necessity of reform is caused by the outdated approach to the planning of the fire protection and the inefficiency of the existing system of fire protection service.
The number of management bodies at the Rayon (District) level will correspond to the number of newly established administrative Rayons. A part of fire safety stations and fire-extinguishing equipment held by the State Emergency Service will be transferred to territorial communities with the aim of establishing their own fire protection service, and the fire fighting and rescue units of the State Emergency Service at the Rayon level will be reinforced and the composition of first-alarm assignments will be brought up to full strength in accordance with the standard number.
Arsen Avakov informed that the transformation of the system of fire protection service starts from the establishment of additional local fire brigades (LFB) in the newly established territorial communities. It will be done so with aim of ensuring that fire brigades arrive at any site of the fire within 20 minutes (in rural districts).
"Local fire brigades will operate with the minimum number of required personnel, however, in the event of a fire, they will be reinforced by volunteer fire fighters. Both men and women will be able to join local fire brigades. The requirements are standard - age (18-60) and absence of medical contraindications for physical work", said Arsen Avakov.
According to the Minister, volunteers will be selected for that purpose and they will undergo special initial training, with subsequent skill improvement on a continuous basis. In this connection, those volunteers will be engaged only when required, therefore, they may have their principal place of employment.
"They will not get a wage but will enjoy a number of privileges and guarantees of social protection as offered by the state and local self-government bodies", informed Arsen Avakov.
Such system is used in a number of countries worldwide. In the United States of America, 72% of firemen are volunteers who extinguish fires free of charge since they believe that by doing so they help their own city or town. In Sweden, volunteers comprise 80% of the country's fire protection service.
As was informed by the Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the work on the establishment of LFBs and preparatory efforts for the enlistment of volunteers have begun in six pilot Oblasts: Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Ternopil, and Lviv.
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