30th anniversary of the Croatian Air Force 855th firefighting squadron

On 10 April 2024, in the “Colonel Mirko Vukušić” barracks in Zemunik, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the 855th firefighting squadron was marked.

The 855th Fire Fighter Squadron was established in 1994 by leasing two Canadair CL-215 aircraft from Bombardier Aerospace. In 1995, the Republic of Croatia purchased two Canadair CL-215 aircraft, and in 1997 the first Bombardier CL-415. Over time, the CL-415 fleet grew to 6 aircraft, the last of which was delivered in 2009. The squadron also includes Airtractor AT-802 and Airtractor AT-802 Fire Boss planes. The latest addition to the firefighting squadron will be the recently contracted two new DHC-515 firefighting aircraft.

During the Homeland War, the 855th Firefighting Squadron was based at Split Airport, and at the end of the war, the squadron moved to Zemunik Airport, where it is still located today. Until 2001, the squadron was part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and since then it has been part of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia.

The mission of the 855th Firefighting Squadron is to defend against fires in open areas on the territory of the Republic of Croatia, and since 2007 it has participated in firefighting in other countries such as Portugal, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Greece and Israel.

Since 2019, the 855th firefighting squadron has participated with two Canadair CL-415 firefighting aircraft in the European system for defense against natural disasters – RescEU. With this project, the EU establishes additional capacities to strengthen the existing forces for accidents and disasters, which would be used after all the national capacities of the country requesting assistance have been used.

On the occasion of the organization’s 30th anniversary, Colonel Darko Kučej, commander of the 855th Firefighting Squadron, addressed the audience with a welcome speech, saying that the pilots and technicians of the 855th PP squadron, with their involvement in the homeland, but also outside its borders, represent a true example of professionalism, sacrifice and selflessness . “Our squadron selflessly shares its knowledge and experience in our country and beyond. We are equal with our colleagues abroad and the members of our Squadron are established in the world as professional and capable”, said Kučej.

In his address, Minister Anušić congratulated the members of the 855th Firefighting Squadron on the thirtieth anniversary of successful, dedicated and safe work, highlighting the great contribution of pilots to international engagement and cooperation by helping when it was most needed. “I am glad that we can show our strength, our organization and our capabilities precisely through the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia. I will say it many times and I have emphasized many times – the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia are the best that Croatia has,” emphasized Minister Anušić.

He especially addressed the pilots and thanked them for their engagement, sacrifice and humanity in fighting fires and emphasized: “Your job is a calling that you live from 0-24 hours, 365 days a year, and thank you for that, thank you for everything you do to make our lifes safer. The task of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and me as a minister is to make your working conditions better and of higher quality. Be proud of what you do!  We all are”.

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