Firemen join forces to send engine on an African mission
One of the world's poorest countries is to get a refurbished fire engine from authorities on both sides of the Border here.
The 1988 Dennis Carmichael fire appliance was donated by Dublin City Council to the state of Niger, which has just one fire engine.
"The bad weather delayed the engine's departure . . . but we hope that it will leave this week," said Brendan McCoy, chairman of the country's part-time fireman's organisation, the National Retained Firefighters Association of Ireland (NRFA).
The NRFA and the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade Union teamed up with international development agency Plan Ireland for the €40,000 project.
Months were spent getting the fire engine ready -- with spare parts, fire equipment and cash donated by fire services.
The engine will travel by sea from Cork to Benin. A five-strong team will then take it 1,700km by road to the city of Zinder, which has a population of close to 200,000.
The team will make sure the engine is fully operational, and instruct the local fighters how to operate it as part of a 10-day mission before flying home.
Some €30,000 has been collected towards the cost. Anybody who would like to help can click onto the Plan Ireland website or make a contribution at Dundalk fire station.
Repairs, refitting of equipment and servicing have been carried out there by mechanics Michael Dawe, a full-time official with Dundalk Fire Brigade and Darren Geary, who is attached to the Monaghan Fire Service.
"They have worked on it for the past four months in their spare time," said Mr McCoy, who will accompany the pair to Zinder along with Rob Cage and Jimmy Kinahan of Plan Ireland.
Plan Ireland volunteers Redmond Tobin and Joanna Church discovered there was just one operating fire engine in the Niger region while carrying out post-famine work in 2006.
Mr Tobin approached Mr McCoy with the idea of sending a fire engine to Niger. "His enthusiasm alone for the project sold it to me," said Mr McCoy.
"Limerick county fire service donated ladders and cash, while the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service donated fire gear and helmets thanks to the good office of Jimmy Quinn, chairman of the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade Union," he added.