fire-engine-agios-kirikos

Project: A fire engine for Ikaria

The fire engine represents the very first project that we financed from the proceeds of the first «Ikarian Days in Brussels» in 2015.

Fire Engine: Mercedes Benz, 1992
Total donation: EUR 3000 00
Supporters: Participants in the «Ikarian Days 2015» ; volunteer firemen and friends from Potsdam/Germany, «Hellenic Seaways», volunteer firemen from Agios Kirikos

fire-engine-agios-kirikos

Project: A fire engine for Ikaria

The fire engine represents the very first project that we financed from the proceeds of the first «Ikarian Days in Brussels» in 2015.

Fire Engine: Mercedes Benz, 1992
Total donation: EUR 3000 00
Supporters: Participants in the «Ikarian Days 2015» ; volunteer firemen and friends from Potsdam/Germany, «Hellenic Seaways», volunteer firemen from Agios Kirikos

The story behind the project

When visiting Ikaria, you become aware of the fact that fires represent a permanent threat to the island and its inhabitants. Everybody still remembers the disastrous fires in 1994 which destroyed a large area in the southern part of Ikaria and unfortunately caused several deaths. You will also notice that the volunteer firemen on the island are not equipped with modern material, but are using fire engines, pipes and clothing that need a lot of maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately the associations of volunteer firemen do not have the financial means to buy the necessary new material. So every time they are called to a fire they are taking a high risk.

In 2015 we learned more about the working conditions of the Association of the Volunteer Firemen of Agios Kirikos. In the event of a fire, they use, among other things, an old vehicle – the « Yiayia (Grandmother) » -, which is nearly 60 years old ; so there was an urgent need to bring more modern material.

Against this background, the members of the Friends of Ikara association started to look into where to buy a used, but more modern, fire engine and how to get it to Ikaria. They found what they were looking for in Potsdam/Germany – a town 20 km from Berlin: a fire engine, Mercedes-Benz, 1992. The Friends of Ikaria bought it and also found a volunteer driver, Karsten Gericke, himself a volunteer fireman from Potsdam, who knew about the impact of the financial and economic crisis in Greece on civil society. He liked the idea that a fire engine from Potsdam would be used on Ikaria to make the life of the volunteer firemen easier. So he offered his help and in late October 2016 he drove the fire engine from Potsdam to Venice, facing the first snow while driving through Austria. Karsten was not paid for this trip; the Friends of Ikaria covered his expenses for food, accommodation and the return flight to Berlin.

The fire engine travelled “unaccompanied” with Hellenic Seaways from Venice to Patras ; 50% of the transport costs were offered by the shipping company.

And finally: in Patras, the president of the association of the volunteer firemen of Agios Kirikos was there to receive the donated fire engine and drive it down to Pireus. It was a happy group of drivers! They crossed the sea for free to Agios Kirikos – again offered by Hellenic Seaways. It was a great moment when the engine arrived finally in the harbour of Agios Kirikos.

Before the “new” engine could be put on the road, it had to undergo some repair work. The expenses were covered by a “makaronada” organised by the Association of Volunteer Firemen of Agios Kirikos in the summer of 2017.

Today, the engine is frequently used in the southern part of Ikaria. You will see it in the area of Therma, Agios Kirikos, Koudouma ….and we are always very happy when we see it driving around, remembering the story behind it and the many people who supported the idea to make it happen.

Lessons learned

It is wonderful to see how things can happen, if like-minded people work together. “Oli mazi” – “all together” – a wonderful expression that has taken the shape, in the best meaning of the words, of a fire engine for Ikaria.

The story behind the project

When visiting Ikaria, you become aware of the fact that fires represent a permanent threat to the island and its inhabitants. Everybody still remembers the disastrous fires in 1994 which destroyed a large area in the southern part of Ikaria and unfortunately caused several deaths. You will also notice that the volunteer firemen on the island are not equipped with modern material, but are using fire engines, pipes and clothing that need a lot of maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately the associations of volunteer firemen do not have the financial means to buy the necessary new material. So every time they are called to a fire they are taking a high risk.

In 2015 we learned more about the working conditions of the Association of the Volunteer Firemen of Agios Kirikos. In the event of a fire, they use, among other things, an old vehicle – the « Yiayia (Grandmother) » -, which is nearly 60 years old ; so there was an urgent need to bring more modern material.

Against this background, the members of the Friends of Ikara association started to look into where to buy a used, but more modern, fire engine and how to get it to Ikaria. They found what they were looking for in Potsdam/Germany – a town 20 km from Berlin: a fire engine, Mercedes-Benz, 1992. The Friends of Ikaria bought it and also found a volunteer driver, Karsten Gericke, himself a volunteer fireman from Potsdam, who knew about the impact of the financial and economic crisis in Greece on civil society. He liked the idea that a fire engine from Potsdam would be used on Ikaria to make the life of the volunteer firemen easier. So he offered his help and in late October 2016 he drove the fire engine from Potsdam to Venice, facing the first snow while driving through Austria. Karsten was not paid for this trip; the Friends of Ikaria covered his expenses for food, accommodation and the return flight to Berlin.

The fire engine travelled “unaccompanied” with Hellenic Seaways from Venice to Patras ; 50% of the transport costs were offered by the shipping company.

And finally: in Patras, the president of the association of the volunteer firemen of Agios Kirikos was there to receive the donated fire engine and drive it down to Pireus. It was a happy group of drivers! They crossed the sea for free to Agios Kirikos – again offered by Hellenic Seaways. It was a great moment when the engine arrived finally in the harbour of Agios Kirikos.

Before the “new” engine could be put on the road, it had to undergo some repair work. The expenses were covered by a “makaronada” organised by the Association of Volunteer Firemen of Agios Kirikos in the summer of 2017.

Today, the engine is frequently used in the southern part of Ikaria. You will see it in the area of Therma, Agios Kirikos, Koudouma ….and we are always very happy when we see it driving around, remembering the story behind it and the many people who supported the idea to make it happen.

Lessons learned

It is wonderful to see how things can happen, if like-minded people work together.

“Oli mazi” – “all together” – a wonderful expression that has taken the shape, in the best meaning of the words, of a fire engine for Ikaria.