A fourth Central Alberta fire truck is heading to Paraguay in what has become an annual charitable effort.
Bentley has donated a 1991 pumper truck that will be shipped out to Naranjito, Paraguay in May. Naranjito’s residents have almost finished raising the $13,000 in shipping costs.
Besides the truck, crates have been filled with equipment donated by other fire departments, businesses and other donors.
Lacombe city council voted recently to allow firefighters to sell a boat they had fundraised for many years ago. Some of the cash will go towards the Paraguay project.
Uwe Kurth, a former Lacombe firefighter who came from Paraguay, is once again at the front of the fundraising effort despite moving to Edmonton. Kurth said even though he no longer works in Lacombe he wanted to continue helping out.
Naranjito is badly in need of equipment. The community’s 1 1/2-year-old fire department of 10 members has only an ambulance and little modern firefighting equipment.
“We’re planning to send equipment to basically furnish that ambulance as well because we have some medical stuff,” said Kurth.
Naranjito is located in the same area as Natalio, Artiga and Caazapá, the three communities that got other fire trucks and equipment.
“We are focused on strengthening the capacity in that area,” he said. “This is another location in the Itapúa department — which is like our province.”
By helping out communities in the same part of southeastern Paraguay more mutual aid opportunities are created. Firefighters from different fire halls can also train together.
“This community is located by one of the main highways in that area,” he said, adding it is about 30 km from Natalio.
Besides responding to traffic accidents and building fires, the Paraguayan firefighters play an important role in preventing wildfires from spreading. Crop insurance is not available so blazes that destroy farmland can be devastating for communities.