Paying forward a fiery-hot ride

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by Joel Balsam on May 21, 2014

Étienne Robertson (left), Christina Eggiman, and André Hamelin stand in front of the Dominican Republic's newest old fire truck. Joel Balsam photo

Étienne Robertson (left), Christina Eggiman, and André Hamelin stand in front of the Dominican Republic’s newest old fire truck. Joel Balsam photo

When Wakefield firefighter Étienne Robertson was looking around the La Pêche fire hall, he noticed used fire hoses, uniforms, tools, and even fire trucks that were just sitting there past their expiry dates, creating clutter. According to Quebec law, fire equipment that is over 10 years old can’t be used in the province, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used elsewhere. Instead of letting the equipment fill up space or get thrown into a scrap yard, Robertson approached Firefighters Without Borders Canada, an organization working with departments across Canada that sends used equipment to countries in South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. A short time later, Cantley and Chelsea promised to send a fire truck with equipment of their own, with La Pêche expected to follow. “He’s done an incredible job,” said Firefighters Without Borders volunteer Carl Eggiman of Robertson’s efforts to launch a branch of the organization in Quebec.

Eggiman and his wife Christina, who are from Belleville, ON, were in Chelsea on May 15 with Robertson, Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green, Chelsea Director General Charles Ricard, Director of the Chelsea Fire Department André Hamelin, and the former ambassador to the Dominican Republic Todd Kuiack to send off Chelsea’s 23-year-old Chevy fire truck and a number of emergency goodies.

Maimon in the Porto Plata province of the Dominican Republic will be the recipient of an all-in-one emergency hot ride: the truck will be outfitted with a jaws of life system, a water pump, a large rope, and several other items that will be of help in an emergency.

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