The crew of RAF Akrotiri’s 84 Squadron have been reflecting on the challenges they have faced so far during what has been one of the busiest fire seasons for Cyprus in recent years.
The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 outbreak has put every department within BFC under more pressure, but this has not stopped 84 Squadron working alongside the Republic of Cyprus Fire Services to provide key support to its firefighting efforts.
In a recent interview with the Cyprus Lion, BFC’s Command Fire Officer, Alex Middleton, spoke about the high volume of fires this year and he pointed to 84 Sqn’s work in tackling many of those blazes.
Much of the success in fighting fires as they continue to break out island-wide, is down to the continuous training the crew undertake and according to Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Alan Ross, it is essential to ensure his team understand the working practices of their RoC counterparts.
Last month, the squadron took part in Exercise ICARUS, the RoC’s annual fire-fighting exercise in the Troodos Mountain areas.
Simulating wildfires, which must be extinguished by airborne crews, Sqn Ldr Ross, spoke about his crew’s involvement and the benefit it provided.
He said: “ICARUS 2020 provided a brilliant opportunity for 84 Squadron to meet and train with our Cypriot friends in the Cyprus Police, National Guard and Forestry Commission.
“The exercise happens once a year at the start of the firefighting season so we can all refresh our operating procedures as part of the national response plan and build on the strengthening relationships forged over the previous years.”
In preparation for the fire season, during the cooler periods, 84 Squadron held weekly meetings to plan sorties to ensure they maintained key skills.
This proved highly-successful last year after the squadron battled multiple wildfires and assisted the RoC by dropping more than 200 tonnes of water in support of firefighting efforts.
Sqn Ldr Ross was also quick to praise the efforts of his entire team, both military and civilian, for ensuring his crew are as well prepared as they could possibly be.
He continued: “84 Squadron’s firefighting capability could not be achieved without our civil service staff, operations assistants, military aircrew and most importantly, our civilian engineering team pulling together and working around the clock, truly delivering a whole-force approach to protect people and save lives.
“I am very proud of the hard work and effort by everyone on the 84 Squadron team, the results speak for themselves.”