High River Fire Department Donates Equipment to Help Firefighters in Chile

Captain Bushie and Ricardo Berner

HIGH RIVER, AB: On Friday, half a dozen fire fighters from the Town of High River Fire Department loaded up approximately five tons of donated fire equipment to send to volunteer firefighters in Chile, South America.

The efforts are part of an initiative started by the Taber Lion’s Club to help a group of volunteer firefighters set up a community-based fire department in the community of San Juan de la Costa, Chile.

“The community we’re donating the equipment to has never had their own fire department before,” says Lance Bushie, Fire Chief for the Town of High River. “The new department will be run completely by community volunteers, so this equipment will go a long way in helping them get set up and established. We’re happy to be able to contribute to a cause that will help make a difference in keeping their community safe.”

San Juan de la Costa is located in the southern part of Chile, in the province of Osorno. The community is known for its large indigenous population, with most living out in rural areas. The nearest fire department is 34 km away, so residents came together to start up their own department, called the Brigada Kunk Mapu, to help respond to fires in their community.

“Much of the items being donated are items that have been given to the High River Fire Department over the years that cannot or have not been used, or have been upgraded to meet new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards,” says Bushie.

Through the Taber Lion’s Club, the Fire Department is providing full bunker gear, including pants, jackets, gloves and boots for up to 35 people, rubber hoses, a rescue board, and even a 1960s Homelite generator, just to name a few. But, the list goes on.

“This donation is going to get the San Juan de la Costa firefighting team off to a great start,” says, Ricardo Berner, a member of the Taber Lion’s Club and volunteer firefighter in Santiago. “Now, with the full bunker gear, hoses and other fire apparatus, they can continue with more realistic training to get a better idea and feel for what it will be like when they have to respond to a real fire.”

Once the equipment is loaded, Berner will transport everything to Taber to be transferred into a 40-foot shipping container on September 8. The Lion’s Club will ship the container from Taber. It will arrive in Chile in about one to two month’s time.

“This is the fifth container we’re sending to Chile,” says Berner. “Previous donations of bicycles, hospital beds, wheelchairs and walkers have been made from communities across Southern Alberta, including Claresholm, Taber and Lethbridge.”

But, he is always looking for more.

Berner, through the Taber Lion’s Club, continues to welcome donations to fill the 40-foot container. If Albertans would like to donate, they can contact their local Lion’s Club.

For more information about the High River Fire Department, please visit highriver.ca/fire-department.