Ashton firefighters in mission to Africa

Ashton firefighters travelled almost 3,000 miles to provide vital life-saving training and equipment to a volunteer fire service.

The group travelled to the island of Cape Verde, off the West Coast of Africa, as part of Operation Florian, a humanitarian charity which promotes the protection of communities in need through the provision of equipment and training to improve firefighting and rescue capabilities.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) firefighters Jo Musgrave, Paul Leonard and Joseph Malone joined retired colleagues, Gary Costello and Michael Howard, on the humanitarian mission.

As well as travelling to Cape Verde, the firefighters shipped vital equipment, including breathing apparatus, to the island ahead of their visit.

They spent the trip training São Nicolau fire service, which consists of around 30 volunteer firefighters who have access to basic equipment.

The group are now looking to raise more funds so they can access and transfer a fire appliance to Cape Verde.

Jo said: “Previous projects delivered in Cape Verde had highlighted that firefighters lacked access to even basic equipment and personal protective equipment. 

“We were successful in sourcing breathing apparatus sets, positive pressure ventilation fans and personal protective equipment – which was shipped out to Cape Verde ahead of our visit.

“We also managed to collect medical equipment, such as bandages and basic first aid kits, which were donated to the local hospital. In addition, a number of donations of clothing and school supplies were made for the Red Cross to distribute to families on the island.”

IN ACTION: Cape Verde firefighters put their skills to the test.

The container began its journey by sea to São Nicolao, taking almost a month to complete its voyage.

Working closely with a translator GMFRS firefighters trained 25 volunteer firefighters from São Nicolau during their time on the island. 

Breathing apparatus training saw the volunteer firefighters learn about self-protection and how to move around smoke-filled rooms safely.

They also learned and practised techniques in dealing with road traffic collisions, which included a mixture of classroom based and practical demonstrations.

The training was brought to a close with a final demonstration - which saw the São Nicolau firefighters deal with a road traffic collision involving casualties, putting into practise what the GMFRS firefighters had taught them.

GMFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Keelan said: “The aim of the project in São Nicolau was to develop firefighting capacity for the overall benefit of the island’s resident population and tourists. I’m confident the efforts of the group who went to Cape Verde have already made a huge difference - everyone involved in this work should be proud of what has been achieved.

“Thanks to Operation Florian and the work carried out leading up to and during the Cape Verde visit, it now means the majority of the volunteer firefighters who make up the fire service in São Nicolao have potentially life-saving equipment and skills to use in their day-to-day lives and help keep local people and visitors safe.”

The visit was funded thanks to activities held by the group of GMFRS firefighters - including a car wash at Ashton Community Fire Station.

They will now be hosting more charity events during 2020 to allow them to access the fire appliance and have set up a JustGiving page to support the Sao Nicolau project:

To find out more about Operation Florian go to:


Main image:

HUMANITARIAN EFFORT: The team from Greater Manchester in Cape Verde where they delivered equipment and training to firefighters.

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