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CFA builds relationships in Turkey
In April, a group of Epping and Echuca CFA volunteers travelled to Turkey and visited the Koca Sinan station to share their experiences of being involved with a volunteer-based organisation as firefighters.
As part of their trip, they also attended the Anzac Day ceremony at Gallipoli Cove.
Below is Epping Brigade Secretary Michael Cawthan’s account of the trip:
Wow, what a time we had.
Myself (Michael Cawthan), Rohan Stevens, Trevor Anderson, Mark Townsend, Mark Wilson and partner Sharon and Phil Creek and wife Kaye from the Epping Brigade and Echuca member Stuart Stevens had a great time visiting the Anzac Cove and its cemeteries over six days. We all learnt a lot about the Aussie Diggers courage and what they had to go through to survive during the war.
The weather during the days was around 24◦c, and the nights were cold but we soon warmed up with some drinks and meeting new people on our tour at the Tusan Hotel outside of Canakkale on the Gallipoli Coast.
Our visit there, listening to what happened nearly 100 years ago, and the young ages of the men, along with stories of gallantry will forever be etched in my mind to the day I die and every Aussie should do this pilgrimage to Anzac Cove once in their life.
Our historians told us of epic tales of survival along with the legendary tales of Simpson & his donkey.
The visit to Koca Sinan Fire Department in Istanbul was an absolute stand out highlight. We were met by the Chief Commissioner of the fire department with open arms, and all the fire fighters were there on shift to see fellow fighters from another country, they even taped the tour and took plenty of snaps for their other members.
Station 110 Istanbul, as it is called, has around 124 firefighters working there on any day. It is like a CFA Burwood or Fiskville but three times bigger. They have approximately 28 appliances at their disposal and they cover an area of 60 kilometres. They respond to between 3000 and 4000 incidents each year.
They have a massive road rescue vehicle that we all would love to have. It has six wheels with full air bag suspension on both sides and can drop to a 38 degree incline in no time and then raise and drop to the other side.
Rohan and I had the privilege of sitting inside this unit. It is also a specialist vehicle which is capable of crawling over large concrete objects and rubble to get where it needs to get to.
To see what appliances they have is incredible – they have many different types and looking after them is a full time job.
They also do all relevant fire work, paperwork and full video editing and productions of booklets is done in house, a truly great spectacle to see and we were all impressed with the way they run their outfit.
They are like CFA and are very keen to teach fire safety to the children. They also have an area where they teach juniors all about being future firefighters.
We were given the full international visitors walk through of all departments, and also a full background of what every department does.
We had some great discussions with different personnel over the three hour tour and with the help of our interpreter were also able to give them an insight into how CFA works.
We donated a CFA flag to them to keep as a memento of our visit and they were very humble in accepting it. They said they would fly the flag alongside the Station 110 red flag of Istanbul because we have started a bond between two countries. Both of us have committed to the new relationship we have formed to keep in touch over time.