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British Fire Service Donates to Chernobyl

ESSENTIAL firefighting kit, no longer used in West Yorkshire, is being donated to help emergency services near Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

Protective clothing, including jackets, helmets, boots and trousers began its journey from fire headquarters at Birkenshaw yesterday, courtesy of Chernobyl Children in Need (CCIN).

Mark Buxton, the charity's north of England representative, said: "Belarus is crippled by the costs of having to pay for the damage caused by the Chernobyl disaster. Consequently education, health and the fire and rescue services have taken a serious hit.

"Local firefighters have no decent uniforms, protective or otherwise - some have only old trainers.

"The fire station is leaking badly and has no washing facilities or toilet. Should the men wish to eat or sleep they have to bring their own food and bedding.

"They have three engines, but only two work."

CCIN is a charity run by unpaid volunteers who work in the township of Ozarichi, just outside the dangerously high, and totally evacuated, radiation zone.

It is home to 4,000 people, many of them children who suffer ill health because of the disaster.

Philip Booth, chairman of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said that following the Chernobyl accident tens of thousands of firefighters from across the former Soviet Union went to help and, although only 35 died at the time, more than 17,000 had died since, or were retired because of severe disability.

Councillor Booth said: "If our old kit can be of any use to the brave firefighters of Ozarichi and the Kalinkovitch district then we are more than happy to support them."

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