YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s Emergencies Ministry put on display Wednesday more than two dozen new fire engines that have been donated by Japan’s government and will significantly modernize its fire-fighting division in Yerevan.
All 28 Japanese-made vehicles worth $8 million will be transferred to the Yerevan branch of the ministry’s Rescue Service. Twenty-four of them were lined up in the city’s main Republic Square during a handover ceremony attended by Emergencies Minister Armen Yeritsian, other senior Armenian officials and Japan’s Moscow-based deputy ambassador to Armenia, Manabu Miagawa.
Officials said the four other trucks equipped with modern fire apparatus were sent last week to Russia where 28 Armenian firefighters are helping the country cope with its worst wildfires in nearly four decades.
According to Yeritsian, the firefighters deployed in the central Russian republic of Mordovia have received “excellent” evaluations from Russian authorities. “Our lads have managed to accomplish objectives set before them,” he told journalists.
Yerevan’s fire engine fleet numbered 36 mostly old vehicles until the Japanese donation. Yeritsian said some of them will now be handed over to the Rescue Service’s fire-fighting divisions outside the capital. Provincial firefighters could also eventually receive Japanese assistance, he said.
“The 28 new vehicles will fully cover Yerevan and enable us to strengthen the regions’ [fire-fighting] capacity,” read a separate statement issued by the Emergencies Ministry.
The Japanese fire apparatus donated to the Armenian capital is five times more effective and powerful than the Soviet-era equipment of its kind, the statement said. It added that a group of Japanese specialists is currently in Armenia, training 135 local firefighters to use the new equipment.
The Armenian fire-fighting service had some 110 mainly Soviet-made vehicles before the donation. It received no new equipment until 2005.