Arusha Tanzania 2006 Day 21 - The Arusha Fire Brigade
My father was a firefighter in Portland for 30 years. He's retired now, but there's a bond between firefolks, he believes, and he loves to meet other firefighters and chat. I took dad with me to New Orleans in 2003(?) for TechEd and he immediately wanted to talk to the local Fire Department and compare equipment and such. Since this was the first trip out of the US for Dad, I thought it'd be cool to stop by the Arusha Fire Brigade and see what was up. That's my dad on the left, and my brother-in-law (our translator) on the far right.
A few days after we arrived, there was a large fire a few streets over and we saw the tanker truck (with about 900 liters) loping towards the fire. Just yesterday a man in a car was crushed and killed and two pedestrians lost their legs as a large truck's brakes failed and it smashed out of control into a wall just at the corner down the street from where we are staying. In the first case the Fire Brigade could respond, but there doesn't appear to be any emergency medical specialization. My dad was an EMT specialist and trainer for a number of years towards the end of his career, and my brother, also a Portland Firefighter, is a capable EMT-type, IMHO. The police responded to the multiple-death accident, but it is out of the scope of the Fire Brigade here, it seems.
Dad was just hoping to chat, see their setup and swap stories, but was pretty sad about the state of things. They just don't have the equipment to do their jobs correctly. Their helmets were donated from France and Denmark and appear to be pretty old. Their truck was donated from Demark, but the tires are bald and it is in a state of some disrepair. Their hoses are similar in type and size to those my dad is used to, with their primary host being 2.5" thick, but they are frayed and could break under enough pressure. My dad was the most distressed that they have no gloves or heavy jackets. Some fight fires in sandals because they have no good work shoes. Running a hose is hard enough, but running one without gloves is challenging to say the list.
It's clear, despite the language barrier, that these guys are serious about doing their job, and only wish they had the equipment. Of course, you can't help everyone in the world and there's lots of good causes, but...now that we've got a personal contact now with this Fire Brigade and relatives on the ground locally, if you're a firefighter (or know some, forward this post) and think your department might want to donate some gloves, boots, helmets, hoses, foam, or whatever etc, email me and cc: my dad (he's dave at this domain). Apparently the Tanzanian government will pay the shipping and handle duties and make sure the donated things get where they need to smoothly.