Operation Florian was established as a charity in 1995 (Charity Number 1054657). It is a UK Fire Service Humanitarian Charity working to promote the protection of life amongst communities in need, worldwide, by the provision of equipment and training to improve fire fighting and rescue capabilities.
The charity’s volunteers devote vast amounts of time, fundraising and carrying out other activities so that the charity can continue to provide its vital service all across the globe. We receive regular requests for assistance worldwide and we are only limited by the funding we can generate and the donations we receive from the UK Fire and Rescue Services and Corporates.
Operation Florian has a Board of Trustees/Directors which is responsible for the management and direction of the charity. We also have very good Project Managers who are responsible for the delivery of our projects and forming a competent team.
Why was Operation Florian Formed?
Bosnia and Croatia had been badly damaged by the war and much of the fire fighting equipment was destroyed. Following a visit from the town of Split to its twin, firefighters from Manston were asked to help identify and provide some resources to help restore the ability to deal with fires. Whilst visiting the area, a serious fire developed on the island of Brac just off the Istrian Peninsular adjacent to Split. It soon became evident that the people on the island did not have the resources to prevent the fire spreading and destroying acres of forest and buildings. Firefighters from the Defence Fire Service decided that they wanted to assist further hence the formation of Operation Florian – named after the patron saint of firefighters. The first donation of a fire appliance and some equipment was to the island of Brac and is still in service on the island some 13 years later. However, the success had a price, further aid was needed which necessitated an escalation in effort, involvement and commitment.
Subsequently the Charity has developed significant links with Croatia, which has seen significant assets delivered, bridging a shortfall in that country’s ability to protect the communities. At the same time it allowed the country with OF assistance to develop its own resources and capabilities, so much so, that there is now a flourishing fire industry, some items of which are exported within and outside the region.
Florian took a position in these early years to provide resources, that provided fire cover to all people and not selected sectarian groups. After early activity with international agencies it became evident, that to really make a difference, Florian needed to be more agile and focused on the areas of need identified within the country itself. A local ‘Operation Florian’ was created that acted as the focus for both, identifying areas of need, but also to enable a delivery of aid based upon the most – needy. This enabled Florian to act in a neutral capacity and they were able to carry out several missions with great success.
This model has stood the test of time and is the bedrock for its unique success.
How Operation Florian works
The charity is run purely by volunteers and any member of the emergency services can help. Funds for the charity are made up of fundraising events and donations.
Just about 100% of the funds raised are converted into aid. However, as a registered charity, the demands to meet the exacting rules and expectations has recently required the charity to adopt a more professional basis for support and now employs a consultant, to oversee the administration and fundraising.
More recently, the charity has been able to secure funds by becoming the delivery partner for the UK Ministry Of Defence, itself, part of a much wider international effort concentrating on securing peace across the region. This work has allowed Florian, to deliver significantly more aid in recent years whilst maintaining its operational autonomy and decision making. Even though it is delivering to joint aims, it is able to maintain its own profile and presence.
There is no doubt that the success of the early years has provided a profile and access for Operation Florian, that few, if any other governmental or non governmental agencies have been able to achieve.
As with all charities, raising funds remains the single biggest focus, for without them we are not able to deliver our prime purpose. What we offer, is a significant profile for companies, who wish to be associated with a successful charity that has proven international success and recognition.
Operation Florian’s uniqueness, lies within its ability to provide a local focus for delivery of local needs and priorities. Often the earliest mission, is to carry out a scoping visit, to learn as much as possible about the environment and needs. It is this that forms the backdrop, to identifying the type of aid needed. This also provides the opportunity to build local relationships and awareness of what Florian is all about.
Vehicles & Training
We identify a suitable mission in conjunction with either a partner, where we act as the delivery agent. After agreement by the Board, a project is formed, which will have a clearly agreed scope.
Vehicles are sourced either direct from Fire Services workshops, after their operational and financial usage has been fulfilled within the local authorities or through auctions or sales. However these vehicles are sourced, they are serviced, tested (re-painted where necessary) and made ready for deployment. Equipment will be added to the vehicle to produce “first strike” capabilities. This will include some hose, branches, small tools, breaking-in equipment, some capacity when available to rescue persons trapped in vehicles following collisions and breathing apparatus. We will also provide as much personal protective equipment as we can source. Often, this will be the first quality protective equipment that the firefighters have been able to wear.
Once the scoping visit has been completed, a project manager, will be appointed he/she will then co-ordinate the requirements for the project. When a deployment area has been identified, the vehicles and equipment sourced and readied, the vehicles will commence their long overland journey with the Operation Florian team undertaking all necessary exportation and customs paperwork. A convoy leader, will be identified from our list of volunteers and a travel pack handed over to facilitate their route. The convoy leader being fully responsible for the safe passage of the vehicles, equipment and personnel.
It has been a fairly common sight over the years to see a convoy of up to 12 British fire engines travelling through mainland Europe.
If training has been requested or identified, Operation Florian can provide teams of professional, dedicated instructors and volunteers best suited for the project requirements.
Operation Florian have personnel trained in all aspects of Emergency Fire and Rescue disaster techniques such as:
Search & Rescue Techniques
Road Traffic Extrication
Basic Fire Fighting
Advanced Fire Fighting
Urban Search & Rescue
And have worked with both municipal civil authorities and military units with great success.
This is a short history of Operation Florian. If you want to know more, or if you are interested in joining the charity and assisting in any capacity, or if you want to raise, or donate funds or equipment then please do not hesitate to contact us by using the links provided on the website.