City of Wetaskiwin Fire Services is working to keep used fire equipment and clothing out of the landfills and into the hands of firefighters abroad in need of them. They have partnered with the Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad (ASFA) to send used fire gear over to Paraguay, where they have a need for functional equipment.
In Canada fire equipment has a specified lifespan before it must be replaced according to Canadian regulations. However, much of this equipment is still useful and has a lot of life left in it.
Uwe Kurth with ASFA, a former Wetaskiwin Fire Services member that served in 2012, has spearheaded this second-hand gear initiative. Kurth and ASFA works with fire departments across the province to salvage and ship still useful helmets, boots, and turnout gear—including fire resistant coats and pants to countries abroad in need of this firefighting equipment.
Wetaskiwin Fire is also sending fire hoses and fire nozzles in this shipment.
“Most fire gear has a regulated lifespan of about 10 years in Canada and the US,” said Deputy Fire Chief Alex Plant. “We have to replace it by law, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still have a lot of useful life left in it. We’re happy to pass it on to firefighters in Paraguay who otherwise would be fighting fires with little or no protective gear.”
The ASFA is currently focussed on getting gear to firefighters in Paraguay but has plans to help other under-funded and under-equipped parts of the world in the future.