Firefighting gear collected by Rotary Club of Utica is headed to firefighters in Africa.
 
Firefighting gear
Rotary members and friends unloading equipment at CABVI. Pictured (l-r):
James Friedel, Mark Turnbull, Dan Buono, Roger Frank & Paul Nandzik
 
Firefighting gear collected by Rotary Club of Utica is finally on its way to help firefighters overseas.
 
Originally intended to be donated to firefighters in Kosovo, and then in the Ukraine, transportation issues prevented that. But now the 90 sets of jackets and pants are in the hands of Africa Fire Mission, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization that provides training and personal protective equipment to under-resourced fire departments across Africa and to other developing communities.
 
The gear had been collected over a period of a year. Then in September 2020, Club members helped move the protective equipment out of a storage locker in Waterville and transported it to Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) in Utica, where it was boxed, placed on pallets, wrapped, and weighed for international shipment. And there the equipment remained until March 2022.
 
It is now in the hands of Africa Fire Mission. Currently, the organization serves firefighters in Zambia, Kenya and Malawi, and it has partnered in other countries to provide quality training and equipment.
 
Gear boxed for shippingIn a thank-you letter to PP Jim Turnbull and PDG Donald Reese, who spearheaded the equipment collection effort, Africa Fire Mission Executive Director Nancy Moore thanked Rotary Club of Utica for its generosity and willingness "to ensure that firefighters in Africa have the tools they need to protect themselves and better serve their communities."
 
She noted: "Currently, most firefighters in Africa lack basic Personal Protective Equipment and are fighting fires in street clothes. This donation will allow these dedicated firefighters to better serve their communities and help those in need of emergency assistance. Thanks to you, we will be able to continue to provide fire departments with the equipment they need to serve and protect their communities.”
 
Moore also indicated that she expected that all the donated equipment will be in the hands of firefighters within the next year. Volunteers will travel to Africa to train individuals on how to use the equipment. She invited Rotary members that have in interest in getting involved to learn more at https://www.africafiremission.org/join-a-mission.
 
Rotary Club of Utica is also indebted to CABVI and, specifically, CABVI employee Matt Convertino. CABVI and Matt were instrumental in readying the equipment for shipment and arranging to have the equipment shipped to Ohio for the project.