Protective fire clothing, formerly used by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), is set to be donated to firefighters in Lebanon.
More than 1,000 pieces of kit, no longer used by firefighters in Northamptonshire, will be sent to the national fire service in Lebanon via the humanitarian charity Operation Florian.
Firefighters at NFRS started using their new gold fire kit in March this year, but still has a stock of old tunics and leggings they have been keen to donate.
Small numbers of the items have already been donated to community projects, but the bulk of the former NFRS kit will be presented to Operation Florian for use overseas.
According to the charity, the need for functional, serviceable fire kit is great in Lebanon where members of the national fire service have little or no personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them safe when fighting fires.
Group Manager Jim Dorrill from NFRS said: “When we switched from our old blue kit to a new, lighter and more modern gold kit earlier this year, this was the first kit change our service had seen for 15 years. We were delighted when this new kit came into the service.
“Hearing about the experiences of firefighters in Lebanon, we realise how fortunate we are to be in our current position, to be able to update to more modern fabric technology and design. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, there are firefighters working on a volunteer basis without any protective clothing at all.
“We fully recognise the potential dangers firefighters face at fires and other incidents and how important kit is in helping keep our staff safe. The kind of situation firefighters see in Lebanon, with its critical lack of basic clothing to offer protection in those life and death circumstances, is unimaginable. We were only too pleased to donate our old pieces of fire kit to those firefighters in such desperate need, and perhaps help make their working lives a little safer.”
There are currently about 5,000 firefighters working in Lebanon, most of whom are volunteers attending fires and other incidents, ranging from serious road traffic collisions and forest fires, to flash floods.
With more than one million Syrian refugees also living in camps in Lebanon (including many children), firefighters also have an important part to play in the safety of people living in these settlements. Currently, Operation Florian volunteers are concerned about the level of personal risk to which firefighters in Lebanon are being exposed, given their desperate lack of appropriate protective kit.
Operation Florian will be working with firefighters this month to parcel up the kit items, to be conveyed to Lebanon in the new year.
Operation Florian volunteer Allan Henson said: “This is a kind donation from NFRS and it will not be wasted. Every single piece of equipment will be given a grateful home, it could even potentially save someone’s life.
“The level of risk these firefighters put themselves under in Lebanon is incredible. Everyone knows firefighters care about their communities but these volunteers in Lebanon take that to the next level in terms of the risk they expose themselves to. I know the donated kit from Northamptonshire will make all the difference to the valuable work they do.”
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “This donation is a great idea and all the kit is going to such a worthwhile cause. It is wonderful to see this well-used equipment potentially saving lives in other countries.”
For more details about the work of Operation Florian, see: http://www.operationflorian.com