Strengthening the Fire Brigade in the Turkish earthquake region
On 17th August, 1999 an earthquake in the Marmara region, with a strength of 7.4 on the international Richter scale, killed more than 17,500 people, and injured 45,000 others. The Marmara region, in Northwest Turkey, is one of the country’s main industrial regions with the highest population density in the country. The European Commission created the new support program MERP, providing 20 million Euros in funding for the reconstruction of the region. For the two most vulnerable provinces of Kocaeli and Adapazari, two projects for the local fire brigade were initiated to strengthen the civil protection. The project component “Consulting and Training” was awarded to the BGZ consortium.
Cooperating in an EU project to strengthen the Turkish Fire Brigade was a new assignment for the Berlin Fire Department. It provided the opportunity to bring various experiences together, including those beyond their own city and their country. Local partners were the Kocaeli and Adapazari fire brigades. The objective of the project was to be better prepared for future earthquakes.
BGZ coordinated the project with two local offices, experts from the Berlin and Warsaw Fire Departments advised the Turkish partners on emergency plans, adaptation of the organisational structure and processes, improvement of emergency rescue, extension of the volunteer fire brigade and on neighbourhood civil protection. Trainers for the local fire brigades have also been trained.
A total of 27 future trainers from the Fire Brigade in Kocaeli and Adapazari completed eight-weeks of training in Poland, Germany and Turkey. In Czestochowa in Poland they practiced operations in road accidents, medical emergency rescue, as well as the handling of breathing protection equipment. At the Berlin Fire Department, operations regarding the safety of hazardous goods, rescue operations with heavy vehicles and for trapped persons were then simulated. The training courses were completed by trainings in management, rescue operations and didactics at the fire brigades in Adapazari and Kocaeli, which were partly completed together with emergency physicians, traffic police and volunteers. In addition, a training centre in Adapazari was created, and a training ground with scenarios for rescue and recovery was planned and built. Policy makers and local and regional rescue organisations took part in the final event, which included a large public fire brigade exercise. There on the central square in the city centre of Adapazari, the results were evident. The fire-fighters demonstrated their skills impressively and were applauded by many of the public spectators.
“The Berlin Fire Department’s participation in the BGZ project “Technical assistance for strengthening fire departments in the Kocaeli province and the city of Adapazari (Turkey)” broke new ground for us. We learned to look at our tasks not only from a professional, but also from a cultural, linguistic, and economic perspective. Our participation in the project helped us to see the bigger picture and especially to further develop our intercultural skills.”Dr. Peter Wagner, Berlin Fire Department
Berlin, Poland, Turkey
Berlin Fire Brigade, vfdb Berlin (Association for Fire Prevention in Germany)
Warsaw Fire Brigade KG PSP
Dr. Ines Klemm
European Kommssion (EuropeAid / MERP – Marmara Earthquake Rehabilitation Programme)