Largest number of fire and rescue vehicles to deliver aid to Ukraine

The largest number of fire and rescue vehicles to date will deliver emergency firefighting aid to services in Ukraine next week.

A convoy including 20 fire engines will leave Kent on Tuesday and carry more than 2,800 pieces of equipment such as ladders, boats and breathing kits to the war-torn country.

The equipment has been donated by a partnership of 15 fire and rescue services (FRSs) from England and Wales.

More than 100 volunteers from the FRSs and organisation FIRE AID are taking part in the convoy, which has been sponsored by the Home Office.

Ukraine fire and rescue convoy Philp
Home Office minister Chris Philp met some of the convoy’s volunteers (Edward Matthews/PA)

It is hoped the donations will provide a much-needed boost to Ukraine’s local fire services, which have seen nearly 400 fire stations destroyed and 91 firefighters killed since the war began, according to latest Home Office figures.

In total, 33 fire and rescue vehicles will form the convoy including two mechanics’ vehicles and one aerial ladder platform, which disperses water onto buildings from above.

Road traffic collision equipment, fire and water PPE and safe working at height kits are among the other pieces of equipment being sent.

Home Office minister Chris Philp said: “Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine has taken a toll on the brave people of Ukraine’s fire and rescue services, who have not just seen their equipment and buildings decimated, but (it has) also led to the loss of many heroic firefighters’ lives.

“We are now in the third year of this senseless conflict and today’s donation shows our determination to support the people of Ukraine remains as strong as ever.

“Every western country must do everything they possibly can – big and small – to help Ukraine defeat Russia’s invasion. We cannot allow aggression to win.”

Six previous road convoys and a rail shipment have been made to Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country in 2022.

Mark Hardingham, chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “We have witnessed the sheer strength and resilience of Ukrainian firefighters since the day the war began.

“With the war continuing and the task before them increasingly challenging, the UK and international firefighter community will continue to provide support however we can.

“The efforts to bring this equipment together, and get it to where it’s needed most, demonstrates the very best of UK fire and rescue services.”

David O’Neill, chair of FIRE AID, said firefighters were being increasingly targeted in Ukraine, with three recently killed during an air strike.

He added: “The impact that our donations are already having in Ukraine is clear, but it provides more than physical protection for firefighters; it shows they are not alone and gives them hope and courage to continue risking their own lives to save others.”