Lacombe area firefighters train responders in Paraguay on donated firetruck

Trevor Griffiths, Dow Fort Saskatchewan Emergency Services operations leader, left, gives Ramon Prieto, one of the first responders in Paraguay, a Dow Fort Saskatchewan Emergency Services badge while training them as part of the Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad's Project Paraguay.

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The firetruck shipped out of Lacombe in June arrived at Cuerpo de Bomberos Voluntarios de la Ciudad in Encarnacion, Paraguay and local area firefighters involved in the Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad (ASFA) spent the last two weeks of October training them on the unit.

“In June, we shipped the firetruck that was donated by Dow to Paraguay. We also shipped equipment, tools, and a support vehicle that were donated by numerous other supporters including the Sylvan Lake Fire Dept., Firemaster Oilfield Services, Clearwater Regional Fire Services, and Lacombe County Fire Services,” said ASFA Board Director Eric Nicholas in a release issued Friday.

“It was an incredible experience to see how appreciative the local departments were to receive the equipment and training. Helping to organize this training event was one of the highlights of my career and we were so thankful to work with a company like Dow who was willing to give a fire engine and to send one of their emergency responders to train people.”

It was the seventh donation made to fire departments in need through the ongoing “Project Paraguay,” which was originally under the umbrella of the Lacombe Firefighters Association. It was started in order to help other countries and communities in need through making use of functional fire equipment no longer meeting high Canadian regulatory standards or the needs of local departments. Now, the project is under ASFA, which has been designed to expand the project’s reach, and their ability to help more communities.

Trevor Griffiths of DOW Chemical signs a message of “safety first” on the fire truck apparatus being donated by them and the Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad to a fire department in Encarnacion, Paraguay on Monday, June 24, 2019. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The truck is the third that Dow has donated, with the last two sent to departments in Chile.

“I’m extremely proud to work for a company like Dow who supports a sustainable solution to extend the life of our surplus equipment,” said Trevor Griffiths, Dow Fort Saskatchewan Emergency Services operations leader.

“What I respect about my company is that we believe in going beyond donations. We believe in giving employees like me the time to engage for impact with the non-profits we support. Going to Paraguay with ASFA was a life-changing truly inspiring event and I will continue to give back and work with this organization that believes in building resiliency in the communities they support through emergency response training.”

The donation also included a sea container of donated equipment, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other tools for use by first responders.

After the arrival of the equipment, and the truck itself, was followed by training for firefighters there, including on aerial operations, foam application, rural water evolutions and other skills. While training was primarily held in Encarnación, a city with a population of 130,000, the group of volunteers from ASFA visited and trained those in an additional five communities and 12 different fire departments.

“The partnership with Dow started with Ed van Delden, a Dow retiree and the retired Fire Chief in the City of Lacombe,” said Nicholas. “This partnership, along with a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Lacombe proved invaluable for the success of the trip. This mission was a true partnership between industry, municipal emergency responders and community groups that ASFA is looking forward to continuing to grow with future projects.”

To see more photos and video of the training event in Paraguay or to find out how to get involved with ASFA, check out Alberta Society for Firefighter Abroad – Project Paraguay on Facebook.

The Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad (ASFA) trains first responders in Paraguay near Encarnacion. Photo supplied

Ramon Prieto, one of the Paraguay first responders, accepts an Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad (ASFA) badge from Eric Nicholas while the ASFA volunteer team was in Paraguay training firefighters on the equipment donated in June.

Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad’s Eric Nicholas, Dow’s Trevor Griffiths and a firefighter from one of the receiving departments in Paraguay during a training session on equipment donated to Paraguay. Photo Supplied

Lacombe County Fire Chief Drayton Bussiere talks about the Alberta Society for Firefighters Abroad and their donation of an aerial apparatus and truck from DOW Chemical Canada to Encarnacion, Paraguay on Monday June 24 2019 outside of D & M Plastics in Lacombe, Alta. Ashli Barrett / jpg, LG