PdC Fire donates equipment overseas

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Prairie du Chien Fire Chief Jeff Boughton stands with volunteers Bradford and Joanne Martin, from the Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, and beside some of the turnout gear the fire department donated to the organization.

Nineteen air packs, along with 11 air pack masks and 38 air bottles were donated to the fire departments in Nicaragua from the Prairie du Chien Fire Department. Even though Americans have to replace such gear every 10-15 years, overseas rescue crews aren’t held to the same standards as the U.S. This is a good alternative to simply throwing these supplies away. (Photos by Correne Martin)

The Prairie du Chien Fire Department recently donated outdated and expired firefighting equipment to fire departments in Nicaragua, through the Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners of the Americas. 

Fire Chief Jeff Boughton explained that fire departments in the United States are required to follow national standards in regard to personal protective equipment. These standards require that all structural turnout gear be replaced every 10 years, and SCBA (air pack) bottles that are composite (carbon) be replaced every 15 years. 

With these standards, the PdC Fire Department had a number of old coats, pants, helmets, air bottles, air packs, as well as some old fire hose that were not in use anymore. Instead of just disposing of this equipment, the department worked with the non-profit organization, which takes old fire equipment that does not meet national standards and should not be used in the U.S., and gives the equipment to fire departments in other countries that don’t need to adhere to the same standards. 

Bradford and Joanne Martin, of Whitehall, came to Prairie du Chien last week to load up about 15 sets of turnout gear, 38 air bottles, 19 air packs, 11 air pack masks and nine 50-foot rolls of inch-and-a-half hoses from the fire department. They will take the equipment back to Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners’ offices in Stevens Point and Minocqua for storage until the next shipment of products overseas. 

Bradford said three 40-foot containers were shipped out a month ago. This occurs about three times per year. The organization conducts its work through the government-funded Denton Program, which, since the 1980s, has allowed private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods to countries in need. 

The Martins said the Wisconsin Nicaragua Partners of the Americas have shipped 36 old fire trucks and 26 retired ambulances over the years, in addition to rescue equipment.

Chief Boughton stated that this is a great opportunity to help less fortunate fire departments with usable equipment.

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