NC fire department donates used gear to Central American firefighters
The department is also selling its old tanker truck to raise money for new equipment
Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — An area fire department is giving Central American countries a fighting chance by donating its used equipment.
Boiling Springs Fire and Rescue recently donated turnout gear to fire department in Nicaragua and Guatemala to help their fellow public servants abroad. Turnout gear, gloves and a thermal imagining camera were sent down with the help of Fireman's Faith Ministry, said Capt. Blake Wilkey.
"The stuff down there is in bad shape. Our stuff is brand new to them," Wilkey said.
Wilkey went on a trip to the area last year to get a first-hand look at what those departments are working with. The safety equipment most Americans associate with firefighters here is not what is standard down there. When firefighters in those countries go out they have flack pants and then their civilian clothes, he said.
"They don't have enough jackets or helmets. There are holes in the hoses too. This brings new life to them," he said.
In the United States turnout gear has expiration dates, and equipment usually has to be replaced every 10 years. In Nicaragua and Guatemala, no such stipulations are required. So they are able to reuse the old equipment, Wilkey said.
"It is a safety upgrade for them," he said.
Fireman's Faith Ministry, based out of Gastonia, gathers equipment from departments in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, to ship to stations in these countries.
The department has been working to find new life for other older equipment as well. One item in particular is a 1989 GMC/FMC Tanker truck with a little less than 15,000 miles on it.
"We have been fortunate enough to have the funds to upgrade," Wilkey said.
It may be an older model, but the tanker has been well taken care of over the years in Boiling Springs and still runs just fine, Wilkey said. Boiling Springs has been using its Facebook page to try and sell it.
"We try to donate or sell it to a group around here first," he said.
Usually trucks will be sold to a neighboring fire department or to a local farmer that can use it for hauling water. Other times, when not sold locally, they are put on govdeals.com.
"We sold a truck two years ago to a guy in Ohio. He fixed it up and now uses it for parades," Wilkey said.
Any money made on the selling of the truck with go to the department's general fund for new equipment.
Anyone on the market for a tanker can get the Boiling Springs one for $20,000.
©2020 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.