Greece trains over 2,000 volunteers for deadly fire season

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Greece is turning to volunteers as it prepares for a potentially deadly fire season, with Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides marking the occasion by attending the training on Sunday of 150 candidates for the Dionysos Municipality civil protection volunteer groups.

The training forms part of the programme for training volunteers to protect forests and fight forest fires, which officially began on Saturday throughout the country.

The aim is to train and provide certification to volunteers in civil defence services operated by municipalities. A total of 2,100 volunteers will participate in the training programme, which will last 52 hours, of which 38 will concern forest protection.

Stylianides said that volunteerism will be a key pillar for facing a "difficult summer" ahead, adding that the ministry was focusing on prevention of forest fires.

"At the ministry we are attempting an effort that is based on promoting volunteerism as an equally important operational branch as the fire brigade. It will be the complement that is so intertwined and interdependent that the two together will be able to reach much high levels of effectiveness," he said.

The minister admitted, however, that nothing can be fully sufficient when faced with unprecedented phenomena, such as the megafires that occurred during the previous summer, and at such times "we need our volunteers beside our heroic fire fighters".