There are a lot of cuttings and photos here for you to look at , although many, many thanks must go to the team that went out to Armenia to do a job I think it only fair to also mention all the help given by many unsung heroes back home who helped with getting the adventurers ready and able to go. Groups of firefighters went on three missions to Armenia in 1988, 1990 and 1994 this article has included bits from all .
On one of the aid efforts a Lancashire evening telegraph reporter went with the group.
The groups were made up from firemen from across Lancashire quite a few of who were stationed at Blackburn at one point in their careers
Many thanks go to Colin Cunliffe an ex officer with Lancashire fire brigade for allowing us to use his cuttings from this period in his life
Recording the history of the fire service in Blackburn, Lancashire
|A new comment on Blackburn Fire History is waiting for your approval. The comment is about the following page:Life Saving Missions To ArmeniaThe comment is:I recall back in 1989 I was on duty with Red Watch at Blackburn Fire Station when received a request from Headquarters about lunch time for the Rolonof Unit with the General Purpose Pod to be sent to HQ. Also a request for two volunteers to man the vehicle with the instruction that the volunteers would need a overnight bag, along with Firefighter Jim Kenyon and myself as the saying goes volenteered , after a few telephone calls to our families we were sent home to collect our over night bags. We at this stage no idea what our role was to be until we arrived at Headquarters , on arrival we met by a senior officer who instructed to proceed with him to the United States Army main European Store Facilty at Burtonwood near Warrington. On arrival we could not believe the size of the Facilty , we were told by the US Army personnel that they had enough equipment to supply a Army for six months if conflict broke out in Eastern Europe, the place was massive. We drove into this massive Hanger type shed. To be met by a number of US Army personnel , who had laid out every thing that was needed to send people to Armenia to help out with the original earthquake. Everything from Artic clothing, boots and Emergency Ration Packs enough to last for thirty days. After a crash course on how to wear the specialist cold weather clothing we loaded it up on to our vehicle pallet after pallet of rations and boxes of clothing. A nice touch was that before we left the Oic a Five Star Female General of the Facilty presented every one of us with a cross US and Union Flag lapel badge. We proceeded back to Service Headquarters at about 2100hrs were we had to show the group that we’re going to Armenia how to use the Artic Clothing and issue them with their own gear, it was a little bit like Christmas Morning with the kids ,,mine does not fit, it does not work etc etc.|
We were then told that we where to load the rest of the teams rescue equipment on to the vehicle and take it to Heathrow Airport Fire Staion and await the arrival of the team. To this day I do not know how we got all that gear on to the vehicle, as is norm their always a expert, usually a Officer type so much that part way down the M6 we had to pull over onto the hard shoulder to re-fasten the Canvas Sheet.
We arrived at Heathrow Fire Station in the early hours of the morning along with the rest of the team. Unbelievable a senior officer who’s shall remain nameless requested that a inventory check be carried out on the loaded vehicle, perhaps we had mislaid a pallet of rations on the way down, so again off came the Canvas Sheet again, this went down like a lead balloon. As daylight started to come up we were escorted on to the Airfield by the Airport Fire Service Crash Tender to a Russian Aeroflot aircraft witch was parked away from the main terminal we were told that this was normal wth Russian aircraft . On arrival at the aircraft it was deserted nobody to meet us the airport Fighters told us that this again was normal that we had just to sit tight until someone arrive to open up the aircraft I recall that it was amazing site sitting on one of the worlds most busy airfield at dawn watching aircraft stacking in the distance and landing. After about a hour someone appeared Big round hat and all, and he opened up the aircraft and we began loading the equipment, I remarked to one of the airport firefighters that how does he no how much weight their is, he remarked that they took a very relaxed approach to loading aircraft and regularly burst tyres on landing not nice to no if you are flying.
We contacted the team by mobile phone to tell them that all the equipment had been loaded. We had a cup of tea at the airport fire station and proceeded to drive home up to this stage we had had nothing to eat or drink since the day before fortunately we acquired two US Army ration packs which put us on till we got home about lunchtime the following day. Sometime after we where invited to dinner at a County Hall were we along with the team were thanked by the Russian Consulate and the County Council. Bob France Retired Firefighter .
Comment author: Bob France
This page was added by stephen brown on 19/10/2015.