Rescue of people in the emergency situations within decentralisation is an issue the solution of which is to increase the capacity of each hromada in provision of high-quality and efficient services to assist the population in emergencies. Decentralisation creates great opportunities for this – there are powers and resources on the ground. But apart from this, hromadas must form an understanding of their own responsibility for the safety of their residents.
A discussion on the initiation of a joint project to facilitate the creation of voluntary fire protection brigades in Ukraine, primarily in the AHs, was held on 15 March, with the participation of representatives of MinRegion, State Emergency Service, Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Ukraine and the U-LEAD with Europe Programme.
"In Poland, the voluntary brigades have been operating for more than a century, and the number of their participants far exceeds the composition of state fire and rescue services. Due to the volunteers, the response time to the emergency situation is now no more than 15 minutes there. We just start to form a culture of voluntary brigade formation. Therefore, within the framework of this project, it is necessary not only to demonstrate foreign experience to hromadas, but also to teach how and where to build a safety centre, how to equip it and which specialists to hire. The main thing is to form hromadas’ understanding that they cannot stand aside the safety of their residents. It is also important to provide tools and teach hromadas to motivate their residents to become volunteers," said Vyacheslav Nehoda, First Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services.
Within the framework of the project, it is planned to analyse the legal regulation of the issues of organisation and functioning of voluntary fire brigades and medical aid teams, provide recommendations on funding such activities, develop the capacity of AHs in this area, organise study visits and internships in Poland for representatives of local self-government bodies and public leaders.
General Marek Kowalski, former deputy fire chief of the governmental Polish fire brigade, said: "We have experience of cooperation with hromadas in Ukraine. We invited representatives of several hromadas to Poland for an internship, and we can testify to the great desire of Ukrainians to learn how to be useful to their hromadas and save people. Thus, we are sure that the project will help release this energy of the AH residents."
Andrei Horvat, Deputy GIZ Programme Director of U-LEAD with Europe, supported the initiative and confirmed the readiness to make the project one of the main directions of the Programme's activities.
The National Firefighting and Rescue System of the Republic of Poland consists of two main components:
The number of employees of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine responsible in particular for fire safety is about 55 thousand people, although the territory of Ukraine exceeds the territory of Poland almost twice. By this time, only a few voluntary brigades have been set up in the west of the country. At the same time, according to official statistics, about 2,000 people die every year as a result of fire accidents in Ukraine. Voluntary fire brigades, included in the system of national emergency service, can significantly reduce these rates.
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