Dorchester fire department donates outdated equipment to Firefighters Without Borders

Joan LeBlanc
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he Dorchester fire department recently donated outdated equipment to Firefighters Without Borders, a Canadian organization dedicated to providing firefighting gear to firefighters in less advantaged countries. Shown here, left to right are firefighters Luke Shaw of the Centerville, NB fire department and Ryan Myles, of the Juniper, NB fire department, the two men who picked up the donated equipment; Dorchester firefighter Nancy Milner and fire chief Greg Partridge. Myles is also the Maritime Provinces representative for Firefighters Without Borders. 

DORCHESTER, NB – The Dorchester fire department has found a great way to dispose of outdated firefighting equipment.

Over the weekend the department donated its unusable equipment to a volunteer organization called Firefighters Without Borders.

The organization is a registered charity based in BC that offers support and equipment to emergency services organizations in countries in need. The goal is to provide a helping hand so their organizations in need can provide emergency services within their own communities.

Earlier this year the Dorchester volunteer fire department undertook renovations to their fire hall, which involved clearing out and disposing of outdated equipment.

Dorchester firefighters Nancy Milner and Sara Boyce soon began looking to find a useful purpose for the outdated equipment.

“We just found it hard to dispose of the equipment. It’s all in good shape, but legally it’s out of date for use by firefighters in Canada or the US,” Milner said Monday.

After much investigation, the pair recently found out about the Firefighters Without Borders organization and contacted the Atlantic Canadian representative of the organization.

“There apparently had been no representative of the Firefighter’s Without Border in Atlantic Canada until recently. Ryan Myles of the Juniper, NB fire department is now that rep and when he took over that volunteer position, he began contacting fire departments all over the region,” she explained.

She had much praise for the young firefighter, noting that since the Firefighter’s Without Borders organization is totally volunteer, there are no funds received for out-of-pocket expenses incurred while carrying out the work of the organization.

“He and a friend, Luke Shaw, a fellow firefighter from Centerville, NB, spend hours on the road just picking up donated equipment from fire departments around the province and into Nova Scotia. They are actually looking for local representatives for the Firefighters Without Borders organization who can contact fire departments in the smaller areas and gather donated equipment in a central location, which will make for easier pick-up,” Milner added.

And that’s a job that she’s willing to do in the local region; so she has already begun contacting fire departments around the region to round up donations of various pieces of firefighting equipment.

Milner pointed out that in many of the poorer countries members of rural fire departments are fighting fires wearing regular rubber boots and using small garden hoses. Most don’t have any fire fighting equipment at all and are forced to enter burning buildings in just their regular clothing with no protection at all.

She added that the North American standard states that any firefighting gear that goes into a structure fire cannot be any more than 10 years of age, or if its damaged to the point that it doesn’t protect the wearer anymore. The structures in many foreign countries, particularly those in rural areas, are small buildings constructed mainly of wood and outdated North American bunker gear would still provide a lot of appropriate protection in fighting fires in those types of conditions.

“In North America, buildings are made of many types of materials, so bunker gear has to be made of specific materials which provide a higher level of protection for firefighters,” Milner explained.

She added that Firefighters Without Borders will accept most equipment if it’s still in good shape, although past the North American expiry date.

“They don’t want stuff that should be junked; stuff that needs to be repaired, because there’s no money for that. But there’s lots of equipment at many fire departments that still has a lot of use left and that’s what they like to get,” she said.

The Dorchester fire department donated 10 full bunker suits including helmet, pants and coats; 16 long, heavy canvas coat possibly bought for use in the 1940s.

“These were just like new; they couldn’t have been used much. We haven’t used those types of coats for years, but they will provide a lot of protection for firefighters who don’t have anything at all,” Milner said.

Dorchester fire department also gave four complete with air packs and bottles and eight harnesses for the air bottles. Milner pointed out that the air bottles alone cost more than $2000 to replace.

Milner encouraged all fire departments large and small to assess their equipment and consider donating it to Firefighter’s Without Borders.

“It’s the dedication of firefighters for other firefighters around the world that keeps this organization growing. Right now they are concentrating on sending gear to the Dominican Republic. The aim is to outfit every fire or emergency services department in that country, then they’ll concentrate on another country,” she said.

For more information check out the Firefighters Without Border website or contact the Dorchester Fire Department.

Organizations: Borders organization, North American, Dominican Republic Dorchester Fire Department

Geographic location: Dorchester, Atlantic Canada, BC US Centerville Nova Scotia North America

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