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Civil defense firefighters train with French peacekeepers

UNIFIL support to the Lebanese Civil Defense in the south of the country continued last week with the mission’s French peacekeepers training with Civil Defense firefighters of Tyre.

The head of Civil Defense Centre of Tyre, Ali Safieddine, said the training is important especially for new recruits to gain necessary skills before their mobilization in emergency and rescue missions.

“These young guys who sacrifice and fight and leave their homes, they are the first responders in their work, during accidents, fires, rescue operations and first aid,” said Mr. Safieddine.

He emphasized that their work is all the more critical now as the exchanges of fire across the Blue Line runs into the eighth month, affecting tens of thousands of people in south Lebanon.

“We are in a real scenario here, with a fire in the building and trapped people inside. You saw how we entered to put out the fire, and then rescued the people inside,” he said.

The training scenarios simulated extreme situations, as in negotiating passage through burning and smoke-filled environments and confined spaces.

The fire brigade chief of the UNIFIL French Contingent, Chief Warrant Officer Christophe, said the goal of the training was to make sure that members of the Civil Defense hone and build on their skills by training in a confined space.

“We immediately felt in harmony and were very well received. We felt that we are truly soul mates, and the training here demonstrated it, we were at ease together,” said the Chief Warrant Officer.

Lebanese Civil Defense is a public civil emergency service that carries out firefighting, search and rescue activities across the country. UNIFIL’s cooperation with this state entity dates back to 2008 and has encompassed a plethora of support interventions ranging from equipping of the existing civil defense facilities to facilitation of joint exercises and training courses.

The facility where last week’s training occurred was set up last year with support of UNIFIL’s Italian contingent. The mission’s French contingent stepped in to equip it later.

In the recent past, the mission’s French peacekeepers have ramped up their support to various Civil Defense units across south Lebanon with, among others, first aid training and kits, rescue training, firefighting training and equipment.