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Swiss fire service ill-equipped to deal with biological attack

Fire chiefs say the nation's firefighting brigades are ill-equipped to deal with biological attacks

(Keystone Archive)

Switzerland's fire brigade says it is insufficiently equipped to deal with the threat of chemical or biological attacks.

The Swiss Federation of Firefighters said its members would only be able to deal with the possibility of such attacks if improvements were made to the training programmes offered to firemen and women.

Walter Egger, president of the federation, said the equipment currently used by the country's fire brigades also needed to be overhauled.

At a seminar organised by the federation in Bern last week, members called for the introduction of a comprehensive training programme for firefighters who lack the necessary skills to deal with a chemical or biological attack on Swiss soil.

Anthrax scares

Raymond Wicky, acting head of Geneva's fire brigade, told federation members that Swiss firefighters had been unable to deal with the unprecedented number of anthrax scares in Switzerland following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Wicky also said Swiss laboratories were unprepared for the demands made on them to provide swift analysis of material and packages suspected of containing traces of anthrax.

Around 700 people, most of whom were drawn from the country's fire, police and emergency rescue services, attended the one-day seminar.

swissinfo with agencies

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