Operation Florian Team Enhances Water Rescue Capabilities and Supports Macedonian Communities

In January 2024, Operation Florian members Steve Jordan and Peter Griffiths had the opportunity to visit Macedonia as guests of honour to support Macedonian Rescue and provide water rescue support to the Epiphany event on 18th January.

The Epiphany event holds significant cultural importance in the Orthodox calendar, where participants engage in a race to retrieve a cross tossed into the river. This was an important event to attend, especially for member Peter, as this was the completion of a project he had been working on for the past 6 years.

Operation Florian’s initial collaboration with Macedonian Rescue revealed a dedicated group of volunteers armed with minimal water rescue resources but fueled by passion. Over the years, Peter and his team successfully raised funds, providing essential water rescue equipment, dry suits, a boat, and an outboard motor. Last year was a landmark moment as through Pete’s efforts and the kindness of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, a 4×4 pickup truck with a trailer was donated. It completed the equipment needs of the project and was a pleasure to observe the Macedonian Rescue team able to attend and support the event with a high degree of professionalism and training.

During the event, the volunteers displayed commendable skill by assisting five swimmers to safety while offering valuable safety advice to others.

Water rescue

Macedonian Rescue continues to be a credit to both their community and country and they have been working hard to expand their rescue capabilities to include mountain rescue operations. This visit provided Pete with the opportunity to donate more brand-new rope rescue equipment.

Whilst in the country the Operation Florian team explored various locations where previous equipment donations had made a difference and identified potential areas for supporting the capacity building of volunteer fire departments.

A highlight of the visit was the Municipal Fire Service of Valandovo, a professional fire department in the southeast of Macedonia. Here, a fully equipped Volvo FL6 fire engine, generously donated by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, stood as a testament to Operation Florian’s lasting impact. An impromptu visit allowed the team to meet the on-duty watch, inspect the well-maintained fire engine, and learn that, over eight years since Operation Florian’s involvement, the equipment continues to save lives and fight fires effectively.

The team expressed gratitude for the warm reception at the Municipal Fire Service and extended their appreciation to Bekim Maksuit, Director of the Protection and Rescue Directorate. Discussions with Mr Maksuit focused on ways Operation Florian could continue supporting the objectives of protection and rescue forces in the region.

Operation Florian remains deeply thankful for the unwavering support and dedication of Macedonian Rescue volunteers and the Sveti Nikole Volunteer Fire Department. Their commitment to community and country mirrors the values upheld by Operation Florian, fostering a partnership that continues to make a positive impact on the safety and well-being of Macedonian communities.

Water rescue

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