Fire from military strikes continues to claim lives and destroy homes in war-torn Ukraine.
With that, the actions of a northeastern Ontario city’s fire services have inspired a group of volunteer firefighters north and east of the Sault to step up and help by donating surplus fire equipment to Ukrainian firefighters.
“We heard about the Timmins Fire Department collecting used, surplus fire equipment for a Firefighter Aid Ukraine initiative,” said Ed Sadowski, Tarbutt Fire Department deputy fire chief, speaking to SooToday.
Firefighter Aid Ukraine is an Edmonton-based organization that is collecting used fire equipment to be sent to Ukraine to quench fires started by the war.
Echo Bay Volunteer Firefighters, Township of Tarbutt Fire Department, Johnson Township Volunteer Fire Department and Wawa Volunteer Fire Department personnel have been collecting surplus fire equipment to send to Ukraine over the course of the last week.
“We decided among ourselves to see if we could help out in any way,” Sadowski said.
“We’re still in the process of collecting and we’re waiting to receive a donation of equipment from the Echo Bay fire department.”
The firefighters have gathered up bunker gear — firefighter jackets and pants — for Ukraine.
“According to regulations, we have to replace our firefighting equipment every 10 years. That means helmets, jackets, pants, boots, spare gloves and spare parts for the helmets. Many fire departments begin to accumulate surplus equipment because of the requirement to replace any outdated fire PPE,” Sadowski said.
“We’ve been able to accumulate over 30 sets of bunker gear and over 30 helmets and a number of boots, and also some other equipment such as breathing apparatus harnesses and N95 masks.”
“The next shipment is scheduled to go out to Firefighter Aid Ukraine on February 15th but we’re waiting for Echo Bay to give us their donations, however we understand that there is a shipment going out every six weeks from Canada to Ukraine for the surplus firefighting equipment to be used over there,” Sadowski said.
Pioneer Construction in the Sault is donating the shipping containers that will be used in transporting the equipment to Ukraine.
“Things are going to get worse — not better — in Ukraine, so anything that they can get their hands on to help move things forward in a positive way, we’re willing to help with that,” Sadowski said.
The equipment to be donated is worth approximately $100,000.
Bunker gear, such as jackets, cost $2,500 to $3,000 each, helmets approximately $500 each.
“This is what volunteer firefighters do. They help the community and each other and there was a call made for donations of surplus equipment by this organization and fortunately we do have surplus equipment and we were able to gather all that equipment together and help in a worthwhile cause,” Sadowski said.