There was some tears of gratitude at the High River Fire Department on August 31, as local fire crews donated five tones of equipment to help out rural firefighters in Chile.

Taber Lions Club Member, and volunteer firefighter in Santiago Ricardo Berner says, they are extremely thankful for the donation.

"Canadian people have given us the chance to help out over 7000 people in Chile with the equipment donated to us today, its unreal what we are sending."

Berner says that the small town of San Juan de la Costa relies on volunteer efforts, and they are often completely unequipped and unprotected when they deal with fires.

"These poor people when I saw them on Facebook, they didn't have helmets, equipment, protective gear, nothing. How can they work under that condition? The town is so small, they don't even have a firetruck."

Berner noted that municipal funding for firefighters is much more common and plentiful in larger cities in Chile, but smaller rural towns often get left behind.

Lance Bushie, the Fire Chief for the Town of High River, says hes glad our town could take part in the establishment of the new fire department down in Chile.

"They're assembling equipment and firefighting gear, that will be going into a container and shipped to Chile, to support a brand new fire department that's in training and has no equipment to practice, to fight fires with."

Bushie noted the lack of support several South American rural towns receive in regards to essential services.

"From the perspective of support the firefighters get down there, there's not a lot of municipal and federal funding, they're left on their own to fundraise for supplies. When Ricardo explained they had nothing to start and train with, we made sure we swept through the halls for surplus equipment to help him out."

Berner, who was absolutely astounded by the support he received had a few words to share to High River.

"I have only a few words to give to Canadian people, thank you so much for the support you have given me, I'm so glad we can recycle this gear and put it to good use, it's like gold to us."

 

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