NC firefighter founds nonprofit to help firefighters abroad
Robert Heussy was in Nicaragua for a soccer mission in 2013 when he noticed fire stations in the area could be improved
By Adam Lawson
GASTONIA, N.C. — Robert Heussy intended for his Nicaraguan mission to stay focused on soccer.
But as he sat against a wall one day in late 2013, freshly finished from picking up soccer balls in the developing country, the Ashbrook High School alum got a better idea.
Heussy, now 26, has served on fire departments for 10 years, so he figured he should check out the quality of nearby fire stations and what improvements could be made.
"I felt like God was saying, 'What would it look like to help the local fire departments?'" he said. "My vision was to reach out to firemen, teach them about God, be there if they need anything. Then it kind of turned into reaching out to firemen in Third World countries to be able to not only share the Gospel with them, but bring equipment, bring training and bring different donations, make everyday life for them better."
Initially Heussy thought he may move and become a full-time missionary. Instead, once he got home, he founded his Fireman's Faith Ministry, using Facebook as a vehicle for communication. A website soon followed, and Fireman's Faith even adopted a 2.4-mile stretch of highway.
Heussy continues to serve as captain of the Union Road Fire Department and work full-time with Crowders Mountain Fire and Rescue. The long hours made working on the charity difficult, but it finally achieved legal status as a nonprofit in late 2016.
"Truthfully, there's long hours," he said. "I spend many hours, some days I get up really early in the morning. Any downtime I have away from the fire department, I spend it with Fireman's Faith."
Heussy said now that the charity organization process is complete, he hopes donations start to come en masse. While other departments across the country have donated supplies to Nicaragua in the past, the situation for fighting fires there is still dire, he said.
Trucks have been donated from Russia from the 1980s and early 1990s, and firefighters often aren't wearing the attire firefighters stateside find necessary to combat potentially deadly blazes.
"They would have just pants or just helmets or just a jacket," Heussy said. "They didn't have a full set of gear. If they do have air packs, they just don't have safe breathing equipment, top-of-the-line breathing apparatuses."
Fire trucks would sometimes not have equipment on them, and the ones that did often didn't operate correctly, Heussy said.
Since that first mission trip, he's revisited Nicaragua twice, and also stopped by Haiti and Honduras. He's not familiar with the fire station situation in those nations, but his website lists several developing countries, not just Nicaragua, as the beneficiaries of his charity work.
The charity is also a ministry, and Heussy doesn't shy away from talking about his religion as a motivation for wanting to help.
"Whatever God provides, we want to use to the full capacity," he said.
Donations can be provided to the charity by visiting its website at www.FiremansFaith.com.
Copyright 2017 Gaston Gazette