Jan 21 2009
Helping where needed
Firefighters are renowned for helping people in need, and a pair of Mission firefighters will be taking that positive trait to a different level.
Mission Fire/Rescue Service’s Lieut. Norm MacLeod and Firefighter Kerry Exner have aligned themselves with Firefighters Without Borders B.C., and will be going with a contingent from Canada to a South American nation, to help raise the firefighters’ technical skills.
“We’re going to evaluate their firefighters’ standards, and help raise it,” said Exner, who works out of station two in Stave Falls.
Both men became involved in the program after a notice was posted on the information board about the trip to Paraguay, which departs Feb. 5, returning on the 16th.
The longtime Mission residents put their names forward, along with a brief detailing of their firefighter certifications.
According to FFWBBC’s executive director Brian Hutchinson, the host countries usually have a long list of items they would like to improve, and the list is whittled down to a manageable level, then adjusted to the skill sets of the firefighters who are volunteering their time.
Generally, says Hutchinson, Exner and MacLeod will be helping with fireground tactics, first responder skills, as well as rescue and hazardous materials awareness.
“I wanted to experience a different culture, and give something back to the community,” MacLeod stated when explaining his motivation for applying.
“I wanted to make a difference, and go where I’m needed.”
“I’m going because they asked for help,” Exner noted. “As firefighters, we go to situations where people need help, and this is just another way I can be of service.”
MacLeod has been with the fire department for 20 years, Exner 22.
“We both have a high volume of practical experience and training, and we want to pass on that knowledge,” Exner said.
FFWBBC started in 1996 when Vancouver Fire/Rescue donated a large amount of equipment to El Salvador, said Hutchinson. After subsequent trips to the country, word got around, and now Paraguay approached the organization looking for aid. The registered non-profit organization is sending another team to El Salvador which leaves Jan. 23.
Forty-five firefighters applied to go on the trips, said Hutchinson, taking vacation time, and money out of their pockets to make the trip.
Exner and MacLeod are covering their own costs, but have received donations from the Mission Firefighters’ Associations from all three stations, and a fundraiser scheduled for this Friday at the Bellevue will take some of the edge off the financial burden. That being said, donations are still being accepted, and any excess funds will be set aside and used towards helping with costs for future FFWBBC trips, explained MacLeod. Donations can be made at Mission TD bank, to the Mission to Paraguay account.
For more information visit www.bcfirefighterswithoutborders.com.
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