International Fire Relief Mission (IFRM) team members completed equipment distribution and training in the Republic of Georgia earlier this week. IFRM delivered a 40-foot sea container packed full of firefighting and EMS equipment, all donated by U.S. fire departments, to several Republic of Georgia fire departments.
International Fire Relief Mission President Ron Gruening (far right) discusses the donated personal protective gear with a Republic of Georgia fire captain, while the department’s assistant chief helps a firefighter don his SCBA mask.
“Thanks to the generosity of American fire departments, hundreds of Georgian firefighters will for the first time in their careers have the safety afforded by full turnout gear and SCBA,” says IFRM President Ron Gruening, who led IFRM’s team in Georgia. “Although this gear no longer meets U.S. standards, it has years of useful life left in it. It seems unthinkable that these firefighters have never had items as simple as boots and gloves, let alone full PPE. Now, each firefighter has a full ensemble. Because of this recycling effort, these firefighter have a much greater chance of avoiding life-threatening injuries.”
Mtskheta is about 12 miles north of the country’s capital Tblisi. It has 10,000 residents protected by the city’s one fire station. That fire station was partially destroyed, as was much of its equipment, in 2008 during a conflict with Russia over disputed territories. The conflict also added thousands of refugees from those areas to the Mtskheta fire department’s coverage responsibility. Although the fire station was rebuilt, what equipment there was was not replenished—until now.
In addition to the gear, IFRM team members spent days training the Mtskheta firefighters on such things as how the PPE works, how to correctly wear it, and how to care for it. They received similarly detailed instruction on the SCBA.
In addition to teaching the firefighters about their new gear, IFRM also held train-the-trainer sessions with the department’s officers. They were instructed on how to conduct “go drills” to teach the firefighters to quickly and properly don their PPE, how to turn the sea container into a live-burn room, and how to build mazes to teach firefighters to work in their PPE.
While in Georgia, Gruening met with representatives from Counterpart International, a private, nonprofit development organization. Counterpart assisted IFRM in moving the donation from the United States to Georgia. Its employees in Georgia will monitor the donated equipment to see that it is being used as intended and submit regular reports to IFRM.
IFRM is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization who’s mission is to collect donated new and used fire and EMS equipment, deliver it to fire departments in developing nations and educate members of those fire departments on the equipment’s safe and proper use. IFRM is a nonreligious, nonpolitical group dedicated to saving firefighter and civilian lives. IFRM members do not draw a salary and all of the money raised is used to fulfilling the group’s mission. IFRM was formed in 2007 by retired emergency-response professionals. For more information, visit its Web site at www.ifrm2007.com.