Firefighters from Lacombe and Ponoka are in Paraguay to provide training on a donated truck.
A former Mirror fire truck was previously shipped to the South American country along with bunker gear, tools and other equipment.
It’s the second time the Lacombe Firefighters Association has organized a fire engine donation to Paraguay. Last year, a truck from Clive went to the community of Caazapá and was followed by a pair of Lacombe firefighters, who provided training.
When Mirror’s engine was due to be retired, local firefighters saw another opportunity to help their Paraguayan comrades. Ths truck will go to Artigas, a community about 100 km further down the highway from Caazapá.
Lacombe Fire Lieut. Uwe Kurth, who was born and raised in Paraguay, has been a key organizer and is returning to his former homeland to act as interpreter and trainer. Drayton Bussiere, deputy fire chief in Lacombe, and Ponoka Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Kelsey Hycha are also making the trip.
The firefighters will train their Paraguyan counterparts over the next couple of weeks before returning to Canada in late June, says Lacombe Fire Department Chief Ed vanDelden.
Having a relatively modern fire engine will be a huge improvement for Artigas. Firefighters there often have to battle blazes in their street clothes armed with power washers and hand tools.
Kurth said previously the goal is to train Artigas’s firefighters like their Caazapá colleagues so both fire departments can work together while responding to the dozens of calls a year on the highway between the communities that is being paved.
Central Alberta firefighters raised thousands of dollars and collected donated equipment to outfit the truck. Artigas raised thousands of dollars to cover the cost of shipping the truck to South America.
Ponoka Fire Department has some additional fundraising events planned this summer to cover travel and other expenses from the project.