VENTSPILS, Latvia -- Latvia's Fire and Rescue Services were helped recently when a newly renovated fire training tower was opened May 26.
This was made possible by the close partnership of the Latvian Ministry of Defense and the United States Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation in Latvia, the city of Ventspils. The Ventspils Fire and Rescue Service Division protects approximately 45,000 people over 2,530 square kilometers of territory and employs 113 personnel.
The Office of Defense Cooperation via U.S. European Command’s Civil Military Operations office provided $25,000 to renovate the Ventspils fire training tower. This was the first time Humanitarian Assistance and Humanitarian Civic Assistance funding were used to compliment each other to accomplish this HA project in Latvia.
A Latvian contractor teamed up with 24 Seabees from the United States Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 to complete the project. The Seabees were in Latvia supporting preparations for the BALTOPS 2010 exercise. This partnership will continue when another unit of Seabees arriving for the exercise will team up with a Latvian contractor to renovate a bathroom in a Ventspils orphanage and fix a school auditorium in the city of Liepaja.
"Our mission is to provide Exercise Related Construction and Humanitarian Civic Assistance in support of BALTOPS 2010," said Navy Ens. Li-wei Chen, Deployment for Training to Latvia officer-in-charge.
The Latvian Armed Forces also played an integral role in this project by assisting with logistical support for the Seabees.
"Their combined support has been a tremendous aid in assisting us with material contractors and general communications," said Chen.
The Seabees had a great experience working with the 46th Battalion of the Latvian Army National Guard.
"Having been on multiple detachments and DFTs, I think that this will be some of the best experiences the younger Seabees will have," said Navy Chief Equipment Operator Jerry Greer, senior enlisted advisor and assistant officer in charge. "I'm looking forward to a safe deployment and hope the troops take back great memories of our partnership with the Latvians."
The fire training tower project is one of many disaster preparedness projects undertaken by the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation in Latvia in close cooperation with the Latvian Government and the Latvian National Armed Forces. Projects like these are possible because of the successful relationship that the US military has with its Latvian counterparts.
In addition to the training tower, ten fire and rescue stations across Latvia, including Ventspils station will receive renovations in the next few years at a total value of $1.9 million. The Ventspils station has been approved for renovations to replace two garage doors and reconstruct a garage. Financial support for these projects will be provided by the U.S. European Command through its Civil Military Operations programs.