After many weeks of preparation, gathering of supplies and firefighting equipment, and communication between the two communities, the Lacombe Fire Department (LFD) donated fire truck will be finally heading south towards Caazapá, Paraguay.
The LFD, Lacombe Firefighters Association (LFA) and A Better World have partnered together to donate the decommissioned fire truck from Clive, along with equipment to an international destination. Members of the fire department, the Firefighters Association, dignitaries and community members gathered at the fire hall on Monday to give the truck and three crates of supplies a proper send-off.
“The LFA has been receiving donations from around Central Alberta to stock the truck to full capacity, so not only will the Caazapá Fire Department get a very nice truck, they will have the professional-grade tools and equipment on it to use as well,” said LFA spokesperson and Deputy Fire Chief Drayton Bussiere in a press release.
The project was announced almost a year ago in April 2014 and has evolved into a province-wide effort.
Alberta Health Services EMS, Stettler District Ambulance, Guardian Ambulance and Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services have all made donations, like face masks or bunker gear, to the project.
The citizens of Caazapá, the chosen community, also contributed to the costs of shipping the truck. Caazapá, a city of 24,000, formed its own volunteer fire department last October and has been responded to calls without a firetruck and proper equipment.
With 16 members, who respond to the emergency calls like motor vehicle collisions, structure fires and wildfires in their own vehicles and on motorcycles, the truck will offer access to equipment needed for each unique rescue call.
“It will exponentially improve the quantity of responses in the community,” said LFD firefighter and one of the main organizers of the project, Uwe Kurth.
Also hailing from Paraguay, Kurth said the volunteer group currently has to fundraise to provide their own equipment.
Responding to emergency calls during the rainy season has also been very challenging for the group.
“This is an important donation to our community and we send our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in getting the truck and equipment to our City,” said Caazapá Volunteer Fire Department Captain Alcides Aguilera Orrego in a press release.
“The fire engine, as well as the tools and equipment, will significantly change for the better how we respond to emergencies.”
Within Canada, it has been a puzzle for municipalities as what exactly to do with fire engines that no longer meet North American regulations, but still have a lot of life to give.
This type of donation offers the perfect solution and was welcomed by Lacombe County councillors.
The truck served the Clive fire district for 22 years, but will now give new life to another community. The truck was scheduled to leave Lacombe this past Wednesday and then after an estimated 68-day voyage across the ocean, the ‘larger than life’ present will reach its intended destination in South America.
Bussiere said shortly after the truck arrives in Caazapá, members of the LFA will fl y down and volunteer their time to provide training for the newly-formed fire department.
It’s also in the works to expand the project into a multi-year program, assisting other communities in Paraguay.