BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Lacombe Fire Department’s ‘Project Paraguay’ team is currently preparing for their third donation of a fire engine and equipment to communities in need.
Project Paraguay has taken off into a wildly successful program, thanks to the help of Lacombe Fire Department (LFD) officials, neighbouring community donations and the support of Central Albertans to help cover transportation and other associated costs.
Deputy Fire Chief Drayton Bussiere said the project has been designed to remain sustainable, and he and the team are looking to continue to build up the Paraguay communities in need.
“This is important work and there is a definite need in Paraguay,” Bussiere said.
“We’re trying to stay within a similar area to our previous donations. Instead of provinces, Paraguay has departments. We are staying with a similar department because we are able to help more people that way. Rather than just helping the communities we’re donating too, we can help the surrounding communities as well.
“One of the things we look for during the application process are communities that work together. We have some departments that work together more than others and if we can contribute to those departments, we know that we’re going to be able to help more people in a shorter period of time.”
Bussiere said a huge asset to the success of the program is Paraguay-born LFD member Uwe Kurth. Bussiere said that without the connection and commitment from Kurth, the program would not be as well developed as it currently is.
“Uwe really is pivotal to our success with this project. He’s really the only one of us here who can easily communicate with our partners in Paraguay. He remains in contact with the fire departments we’ve worked with as am I. We talk to them and if they have questions they ask us. We keep tabs on how things are going in Paraguay and are available if they need any help or advice.”
He added it’s crucial to spend time with the receiving fire departments in order to properly train them on the use of the equipment, but also to strengthen and maintain relationships with these communities in Paraguay.
LFD is currently working on the community selection, and is hoping to send down the truck and equipment by the end of this year, or early into 2017.