Autumn 1996 (4.3)
"Green Goddesses" to the Rescue
It was "raining cats and dogs" that day, or as the Azerbaijanis say when it rains so hard, "You could have caught hold of the raindrops and climbed to the sky!"
But maybe it was a good omen for the 80 "Green Goddesses" (as the green fire trucks are called in the UK), to be doused with so much water on the occasion of their dedication in Baku on June 20, 1996.
The British Government had donated the trucks to the Azerbaijan State Fire Department along with a large quantity of fire-fighting equipment and spare parts. The donation, costing more than $750,000 was made possible due to the efforts of the British Government's Overseas Development Administration (ODA), British Petroleum, and Murphy International, a major UK freight forwarding company which has been operating in Azerbaijan for the past three years.
BP Group Fire Adviser Richard Coates took the initiation when he realized that a large fleet of the Green Goddesses kept by the Scottish Office as an emergency backup fleet was soon to be made available.
"Azerbaijan is poorly-equipped with effective fire-fighting equipment, and there is a shortage of money both for the purchase of new equipment and for maintenance," he observed.
The expatriate community was concerned about local fire safety standards especially after the severity of the problem was dramatically illustrated October 28, 1995, when more than 300 passengers died in the worst Metro fire accident the world has ever known. (See AI 3:4, 46, "Baku's Metro Accident: A Challenge to Strategize").
Many of the trucks were brand new with less than 300 km use. BP also donated a large quantity of foaming agent (which increases the effectiveness of water spray). The vehicles provide twice the pumping capacity of any existing fire equipment in Azerbaijan. The trucks were shipped from Scotland to the Black Sea Georgian port of Poti with the final 1,000 km to Baku made overland.
Coates was assigned to Baku for several weeks to run intensive training courses for the Azerbaijanis in the use of the new equipment.
From Azerbaijan International (4.3) Autumn 1996.
© Azerbaijan International 1996. All rights reserved.