Under-equipped Ukrainian firefighters 'blown away' by donated Alberta gear
'They're expected to do a very similar job that we do here, lacking some of the most basic equipment'
A group of Edmonton firefighters and dispatchers delivered 600 protective suits to fire fighting crews in Ukraine along with other equipment like oxygen tanks, hoses and nozzles.
"The excitement you could see, and the disbelief in the faces of the firefighters, the administrators, when we would open the boxes," said Edmonton firefighter Kevin Royle, who spearheaded a local effort to collect the gear.
"I don't know what they were expecting, but it seemed that they were blown away by the quality of equipment we brought over."
Eight Edmonton firefighters and dispatchers left on Sept. 11 for Ukraine, delivering gear to six different regions of the country before returning on Oct. 3.
Lacking basic equipment
Royle went on a Rotary Group Study Exchange to Ukraine four years ago. There, he witnessed the "brutal condition's" in which firefighters there work.
"They're expected to do a very similar job that we do here, lacking some of the most basic equipment," Royle said.
The Ukrainian firefighters were using Soviet-era trucks from the 1970s and wearing welding gloves with holes, he said.
Royle started Firefighter Aid for Ukraine two years ago.
Donations came in from across Alberta, he said, and weren't limited just to gear.
The group also brought over hand tools and medical supplies for hospitals.
Royle said the trip revealed that more is needed.
The Edmonton group plans to send another container of fire fighting gear to Ukraine by summer 2018.