Fire Fighting – When Training is Turned into Practice

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7 Aug 2023

Fire Fighting – When Training is Turned into Practice

Last month UNIFIL’s Spanish contingent facilitated a joint training between the Spanish Military Emergency Unit, southern Lebanese Civil Defense Centers (CDCs) and UNIFIL peacekeepers. The Galatea Program, conducted from June 25th to July 12th, 2023, aimed to enhance emergency response, with a focus on firefighting, to safeguard communities residing in the region.

The Eastern Sector of UNIFIL’s area of operations, between the Litani River and the Blue Line, witnesses recurring forest fires each year that pose significant threats to lives and properties. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the Galatea Program was carried out to support CDCs and improve their emergency response capabilities, particularly in handling fire-related incidents.

Throughout the intensive training period, Lebanese personnel from ten CDCs including Marjayoun, Rachaya al Foukar, Kleyaa, Ett Taibe, El Khiam, Hasbayya, and others, actively participated in the training. The program was carefully crafted to equip participants with a diverse set of skills ranging from firefighting methods to rescue techniques involving vehicular accidents.

One of the main objectives of the Galatea Program was to foster a close-knit relationship between UNIFIL, the Spanish Military Emergency Unit, and the local CDCs. The coordination among these entities was vital to ensuring an efficient and effective response to emergencies, given the challenging terrain and the recurring nature of forest fires in the area.

Only days after the completion of the training and the departure of the Spanish Military Emergency Unit, a forest fire broke out in the outskirts of Ebl es Saqi, in southeastern Lebanon. Coming to the rescue were some of the same CDC members and peacekeepers who had just completed the training, along with soldiers of the Lebanese Armed Forces. The forest fire was quickly brought under control and extinguished within four hours.

The successful completion of the Galatea Program highlights UNIFIL’s continuing dedication to fulfilling its mission and providing support to the communities within the region. By investing in such collaborative training programs, UNIFIL underscores its commitment to bolstering the capacities of local response units and building a resilient foundation to mitigate the impact of future emergencies.