A contract for the upgrade of two Super Pumas was signed by the Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikiliasin the context of the implementation of the AEGIS program, in a ceremony held yesterday.

This is a project – through a tender of the TAIPED – with a total value of 3 million euros and the upgrade of the two Super Pumas includes, among other things, the supply of two rescue winch mechanisms and two integrated aerial firefighting tanks.

“It is a very, very big legacy for the Greek people and the Greek society, so that we can have our pilots, our rescuers and our firefighters the means so that they can serve the Greek people and the Greek society” , said the Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias.

At the same time, Mr. Kikilias announced that the CYSEA approved the tenders for the supply of 10 new medium type helicopterswhich will serve the purposes of firefighting, transportation and rescue, tenders that he said will go “on air” in March.

Mr. Kikilias expressed his pleasure at the signing of the contract for the upgrade of the two Super Pumas and emphasized: “We are proving in practice that when we want we can and that the rates at which we are now implementing the Aegis Program are stormy, they are very fast”, adding that by the end of March tenders will have been announced throughout the AEGIS programme.

“The tenders will be implemented in their entirety by the end of March, we will start receiving them from 2025, from the next fire season. This does not mean that we have sat idly by during this fire season.

We completed 3.5 months earlier this year than last year the tender through NSPA, i.e. NATO, for the procurement of air assets and I think we achieved more or less all of what we asked for”, noted Mr. Kikilias and pointed out that for this summer they will have a very strong fleet. At the same time, Mr. Kikilias referred to the draft law of the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection for prevention, which, as he said, involves everyone, the Local Government, co-competent ministries and agencies”, he underlined.

In addition, Mr. Kikilias also referred to the conversion from a misdemeanor to a felony for habitual arsonists, even if they are negligent.

“Negligence that leads to loss of life or ecological destruction can only be a criminal act. According to the criminal code, this carries a penalty of 10 years in prison and up to a 200,000 euro fine”, he pointed out and added that “it is a minority of people who do not respect our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, the environment, everyone’s safety and our country and this cannot continue to go unpunished.”

“We are obliged to serve the many and the society as a whole and security is very high in terms of what Greek society and the average Greek family are asking for,” he noted.

“The fire protection season will not be easy this summer either. The planet creates crises and we have to face them, Mr. Kikilias emphasized and emphasized:

“The only thing we can commit to is that every day and every night, every week and every month we will give our all to protect our fellow citizens and serve our country, with patriotism, with pride and with a full understanding of the responsibility and duty we have”, while he added that the most important thing for the Fire Brigade is “to have the means to be able to help and support our fellow human beings and we will continue at this rate”.

For his part, the mandated Advisor of TAIPED, Panagiotis Stamboulidis, pointed out that this is the “first step in upgrading the two Super Pumas”. “We have another contract that is coming”, underlined Mr. Stamboulidis and added that the “next period is a very fruitful period, as large equipment programs are coming and are being contracted”.

“Be sure that what we will bring, what we ultimately have to complete, we also do with great faith in the public interest, but also in your operational and political anxiety to cope with the times with which we commit to the Recovery Fund . Europe is here, it supports Greece like all European countries, through the Recovery and Resilience Fund and we will honor this trust by implementing the major contracts”, he noted while emphasizing that this is a historic period, “which we all owe to do everything in order to deliver to the House, to a House that gives its soul and its body and its life for the defense of the public interest and our lives, an armaments program which will be worthy of its capabilities”.

The ambassador and member of the Executive Board of the Stavros Foundation expressed his pleasure for the upgrade and modernization of the two Super Puma helicopters of the Fire Brigade, one of which was donated by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to the Fire Brigade in 2001. Niarchos, Vassilis Kaskarelis stressing that “a donation which was made so many years ago remains today relevant and beneficial for our fellow human beings”.

“We hope that with the upgrade that begins this period, it will remain beneficial for many more years. We know from our communication with the Fire Department that the Super Puma has been used for a number of years in critical conditions, for extinguishing fires and airlifting patients in hard-to-reach areas, and we are happy that this donation to the Fire Department has also taken place. As is the case with the recent creation of the new Hellenic Fire Service Training Center Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Nea Makri, the training programs in which members of the Service participate in Greece and abroad, as well as the personal protective equipment that we donated six years ago to the Service. It is fortunate for us to be able, with the resources bequeathed by our founder and with the guidance of our Board of Directors, to contribute to the work of those who are on the front line and take care of all our fellow human beings with their superhuman efforts”, said Mr. Kaskarelis. .

The chief of the Fire Department, lieutenant general, spoke about the contribution of the Super Puma upgrade to rescues and fires. Theodoros Vayas.

“With the upgrade of privately owned aerial vehicles we will be more effective in dealing with rescues, fires and we will be closer to efficiency for the Greek citizen,” he said.

In the contribution of the upgrade and what it includes, the pyragos was mentioned, Nikos Galanis, aerial media coordinator. As he said, “enhancing their capabilities increases efficiency while at the same time reducing their response time to businesses.”

Mr. Galanis pointed out that “with the traction-controlled hydraulic elevator, rescuers can work with even greater safety, in places and areas where common sense is put aside and the feeling of offering and protecting human life with the help of experience brings the desired result”.

At the same time, he underlined that “the firefighting tanks further upgrade the super cougars in extinguishing forest fires, providing their crews with the possibility to work with greater precision and speed in the battle with the fire fronts” and noted that thus the air fleet of the Fire Brigade ” is significantly strengthened, expanding its multidimensional operation at the operational level, intervening even more directly in the response and management of natural disasters and gaining greater flexibility in aerial search and rescue missions and in the transport of citizens from affected and inaccessible areas”.

“The needs of our fellow citizens do not cease and are not limited within the time frame of a fire season or days with extreme weather phenomena. The needs of our fellow citizens throughout the territory are permanent, daily and demanding in terms of human resources and logistical equipment”, concluded Mr. Galanis.

On the part of Deputy Fire Chief Menelaos Andreasakis, aerial coordinator of aerial resources and rescue winch operator, he emphasized that through the upgrade, the supply of two rescue winch mechanisms and two integrated tanks for aerial firefighting, “their operational effectiveness is significantly multiplied”

“The multiple role of the operational capabilities of this type of helicopter both at the level of aerial firefighting and at the level of search and rescue, is an important pillar of stability of the civil protection of our country”, he noted.

Then Mr. Galanis and Mr. Andreasakis shared their experiences from the field during the previous year.

“We were called by the forest fire fighting in the destructive fires of Thrace to attempt rescues in the unprecedented floods of Thessaly. Unfortunately we will be called upon to face similar situations in the future, but this time better equipped and better prepared.

The Aegis Program is a huge investment, which enhances the safety of our fellow citizens, as well as our own. The upgrade of the Fire Brigade’s helicopters helps all of us to face the challenges we will encounter, but first of all we must all understand that this upgrade is an investment towards the safety and well-being of our people”, pointed out Mr. Galanis.

In his turn, Mr. Andreasakis referred to a difficult rescue of a Swiss couple who were attempting to descend the gorge in the Gorgopotamos area and then described his own experience of rescues in the floods of Thessaly.

“We carried out 102 rescues of our fellow citizens trapped from the roofs of their homes, 92 of which were carried out using a rescue winch. 92 of our fellow human beings including elderly people, but also small children. Children with their parents and in many cases together with their pets.

The look of these people, the look of these children when we helped them get off safely from the helicopter to the point where we took all the rescued people to the stadium of Karditsa, will forever be etched in our memory and especially in our hearts. It was an unprecedented sight, an unprecedented experience and business for us flight crews as we had never encountered such a phenomenon before. The Thessalian plain had been submerged under tons of water. We had to manage a very difficult event in a very difficult area in which we did not have any characteristic points of approach as we have in a forest fire. There was a huge area and what we saw below were volumes of water, mud and some roofs of houses and on the roofs there were figures of our fellow citizens. The Fire Brigade was, is and will always be next to every fellow human being who needs us, ready to help in any way, by any means, documented, inspiring the feeling of security in the citizens”, underlined Mr. Andreasakis.