As the Deputy convenor of the Cross Party on Palestine I was delighted to co-host a delegation of Palestinian firefighters alongside the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and MSPs Ross Greer and Sandra White.
In 2015 the FBU were contacted by the Mayor of Hebron, Dr Dauod Zatari and were asked to assist the city’s firefighters, as a recent multiple fire fatality had severely tested the skills and knowledge of the firefighters in Hebron.
The FBU has a long and proud history of supporting freedom for Palestinian and of giving practical support to the Palestinian Fire Brigade, and as a result they responded by visiting the city and assessing what could be done to support the Mayor’s request. Upon their visit they found that the service in Hebron was poorly equipped and had receive little formal training in modern day firefighting.
The FBU did all it could by delivering breathing apparatus, personal protective equipment, and a training course on breathing apparatus. In 2016 the FBU worked with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and International Fire and Rescue to obtain the kit and equipment. However, as before, when it arrived in Israel in October, the Israel Military Customs impounded the delivery. The FBU travelled to Israel and Palestine in an attempt to secure the release of the donation and in January last year the kit was released to firefighters in Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah.
The course ran from the 6th-17th of January and the trainees have responded well to the challenges and opportunities that were presented to them. The skills learnt will now allow the firefighters to work safely in hazardous environments and maintain safe procedures for the benefit for the Palestinian people.