Firefighters support Ukrainian families as they mark the first anniversary of Russia's invasion

Firefighters across West Yorkshire have been stepping up to support families affected by the conflict in Ukraine since the invasion began one year ago.

Ukraine Flag

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has been responding to requests for aid from Ukraine since the conflict broke out. They joined firefighters from across the UK when they answered a call for help, sending a convoy of fire engines and other equipment over 2,000 miles across Europe to help those in need.

Since then, they've continued to support in any way they can - even helping displaced families find homes.

Matthew Hayes, Crew Manager at Killingbeck Station, has even been providing support for those affected by hosting a Ukrainian family in his home.

"We hosted a Ukrainian family for about eight months," said CM Hayes. "A mother, Natali, and her two young children - Dima aged nine and Margo, six. We helped them settle and then move into their own home near us and we still support them when we can.

"The children go to the same school as my children and Dima started playing rugby for the same team as my kids. My wife Hayley and I feel inspired by Natali and her young children. They have shown strength and courage to move to a foreign country, learn a new language and integrate into a new culture.

“Their story has taught us a few things. The biggest change we have noticed in ourselves is that we complain less and appreciate more. Also, not forgetting about Maxim, Natali’s husband, who they had to leave in Ukraine. It must be so difficult for their family to be apart for so long. I speak to Maxim by text message and he’s so grateful, not just with us, but everyone who has donated clothes, toys, TVs, and furniture.

“I’d like to thank Watch Commander Richard Driver and his family who donated a huge bag of dress up costumes for Margo along with a TV and Christmas presents. This was such a lovely thing to do. I believe it made the move a lot easier for them knowing they had support from other members of the fire service. I would love to help in any way I can to help other people host Ukrainian families that have been displaced because of the war.”

In addition to providing housing for displaced families, firefighters continue to send equipment and vehicles whenever possible. Among the equipment provided by WYFRS in the last year are six inflatable boats, PPE equipment, hoses, fire kit, ladders and other equipment which joined one of the convoys.

Dave Teggart, Area Manager in charge of operational support, said: “Not only have firefighters lost their lives in Ukraine, but equipment has been destroyed due to the ongoing war, making it difficult for them to carry out life-saving work.

“Donated items include a range of kit that are all in good working order and have been serviced before departure. “These donations will help support Ukraine's fire and rescue service as they continue their efforts despite these challenging conditions. We wish all our brothers and sisters over there good luck with the firefighting work they are continuing to do.”