Fire and Ambulance Development in Africa is Louth and Proud

Since 2010, FADA (Fire and Ambulance Development in Africa) have been working quietly and continuously to build-up the number of fire appliances and fire vehicles for the African towns which effectively had no fire service available to its people.

By Declan Keogh
When they arrived with their first fire engine, a Dennis appliance provided by Dublin Fire Brigade, FADA were receiving calls from other parts of the country looking for similar assistance.

FADA’s first donated fire engine was from Dublin Fire Brigade. Pics: FADA

Some of the people felt isolated and without a proper fire service, and some with just a 4×4 jeep or a truck as a fire appliance, it became very clear very fast that they needed to do a lot more charity work to build up the fire services and train firefighters in using the pumps and equipment.

Brendan McCoy is a retired Sub-Officer at Dundalk fire station, Co. Louth and is the FADA Coordinator. Brendan spoke to Emergency Times and said “Apart from just a couple of 4×4’s and pickup trucks they had nothing major and they felt isolated and the firefighters themselves isolated from the rest of the world so we went about trying to organize different projects for them and I sent out a call for help around the fire stations throughout Ireland and we were inundated from stations offering supplies which we shipped out there over the last 10 years.”

Today, FADA have opened nine fire stations and only last Christmas, they sent out another container of equipment, bicycles and medical supplies that were donated to them.

Fleming Medical has been a huge help in providing support and supplies to the FADA project and the Dynamite’s basketball club in Dundalk too with parents and players donating 70 bicycle which were all transported out at Christmas.

Brendan and the team at Fire and Ambulance Development in Africa not only provide fire vehicles and equipment, they also help train the firefighters in various firefighting situations. “We didn’t really know what to expect from them out there. They ask you a question or they haven’t been trained sufficiently and to give them fire engines and equipment from this part of the world to their part of the world is amazing, and its amazing to see their reaction and gratitude” Brendan said.

The FADA team trained several firefighters in different aspects of fire-fighting and rescue techniques and they continued this on but the second time they went out when they opened up a school and have given them laptops and different supplies for the schools and that school at the present moment is operational in the city of Niamey with the headquarters for the fire service so they not only have a fire headquarters, they now also have a training school going at the present moment and we constantly supply them with equipment.

The firefighters respond to the same type of calls as any fire service would, but mostly road traffic incidents. There is also a high number of flooding calls in Miami too, with a lot of fatalities being reported from water incidents. Brendan said “they have a lot of deaths and a lot of floods, when we saw the situation there we started to issue them with water rescue equipment and started to train the different people frequently in the different aspects of traffic collisions, water based rescue and flood water pumping procedures and so forth and that’s what I try and do and every trip we go on we train people to be skilled and qualified in those different areas.”

Raising funds to travel to Africa for these charitable duties is no easy task, and as every other charity is raising funds for their own specific and worthy causes, Brendan has to rely on bucket collections mostly.

“We might have just one fire engine to send over which would cost about €4500 so we stand in the rain with a bucket and we collect and raise funds and all donations are very welcome but we can’t send that fire engine over until we raise enough money or what we have done is to fill a container with vehicles or equipment which would cost half the price, so a 40ft container would be around €2300 and again we have the standard bucket and collection.”

FF Darren Geary and FADA Coordinator Brendan McCoy

Another option to raise funds was to have a fire engine dedicated to a person or organisation, naming the engine after somebody also raises some much-needed funds. “In the past what we’ve done is we’ve got people to get their names on the fire engine, so they sponsored the name on the fire engine which is then called after that business or that individuals name.”

Two serving members of the fire services in counties Louth and Monaghan, who are also mechanics also give tremendous time and effort on their own part in the FADA project. FF Michael Dawe (Louth) and FF Darren Geary (Monaghan) have volunteers with the project and given their time and experience to help with FADA. “Both Michael and Darren are still operational in the brigade and without their support, we would be absolutely lost, there is nothing those two guys don’t know about fire engines, and they bring a wealth of experience as mechanics and firemanship to Niger and teach, morning noon and night, firefighters how to operate the fire engines and they’re so valuable those two guys and the work they put in in their spare time is absolutely amazing.”

FF Michael Dawe, Louth Fire & Rescue Service

Peter Leahy, retired Station Officer from Drogheda, Co. Louth is also on the FADA team and is seen by Brendan as one of the best instructors he has seen in his life. “Out there, Peter has great rapport with them and because of the limited resources available to us, Peter he would teach one person one knot, so or if he could teach 10 people the single knot, he would and those 10 people teach each other and so on, and that’s the system we’ve been working to because we’re so under resourced that’s all we can do because we’re so under-resourced.”

Brendan is serving in the fire service for the past 26 years, and his Father served in the brigade too. He says it’s he likes to give back.  FADA doesn’t get any government funding and any week or ten days they spend out there, each day is a 12 or 16-hours day. The team have been working quietly for the past 10 years or so and Brendan says there are no heroes here, its just one firefighter helping another.’ “We don’t go looking for thousands and thousands of euro, what we need is what we need, and we just get on with it but its nice to give. There are no heroes out here, its just one person helping another, one firefighter helping another. It costs nothing to give.”

Recent donations of bicycles to FADA