'If you can help, why not?' says P.E.I. firefighter collecting gear for departments in Beirut
'It doesn't matter where you go in the world, firefighters are family'
He collected five tonnes of fire gear for Mexico, donated supplies to a couple of dozen departments in the Maritimes, and now P.E.I. firefighter Kory MacAusland is helping collect equipment for firefighters in Beirut.
"I'm just a small piece in a very big puzzle," said MacAusland, who is part of the organization Canadian Bomberos, a group with a mission to help and provide gear to disadvantaged firefighters throughout Mexico, Central and South America.
"If you can help, why not?"
It's been over two weeks since an explosion rocked the city of Beirut, killing more than 170 people, injuring thousands and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
The blast — linked to ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse — was the largest in Lebanon's history and could be felt up to nine kilometres away. It flattened buildings, shattered windows, killed 10 firefighters and destroyed fire equipment.
Willing to help
"Last week I got a call from Firefighters Without Borders … asking if we could help," said MacAusland.
"It was a pretty convenient time. I was just leaving New Brunswick, where someone had donated a shipping container full of gear."
I couldn't imagine losing 10 firefighters from our hall in something like that.— Kory MacAusland, P.E.I. firefighter
MacAusland also received a donation from the Summerside fire department that he picked up Wednesday evening.
"I got a call from the chief, Ron Enman, and he said, 'How big of a truck do you got?'" MacAusland said with a laugh.
"Got there and little more than I expected, but we got it all on."
MacAusland said the supplies are cleaned and checked over. Sometimes, he said the equipment hasn't even seen a fire, but in Canada you can't use gear older than 10 years.
"We're lucky enough that there's enough people, good people, out there that [say]: 'Hey, you need help? Here's some gear we can donate.'"
'Firefighters are family'
So far, MacAusland estimates they have collected about 1,000 sets of gear including hoses, rescue baskets and pumps, but they are still short on hoods, gloves and medical supplies.
MacAusland said Micmac Fire and Safety Source, Island First Aid Services and Nova Fire Equipment have agreed to give them special pricing on products. Islanders interested in helping out can purchase supplies from those groups, which will then deliver directly to the Canadian Bomberos.
More information is also available on the group's Facebook page.
The first shipment for Lebanon is set to be loaded on Monday and the rest will leave the Island on Sept. 18. MacAusland expects it will take around two and a half weeks to arrive.
All the donations are being sent in memory of the 10 Beirut firefighters who lost their lives in the explosion.
"I couldn't imagine losing 10 firefighters from our hall in something like that. That would be probably your darkest day," said MacAusland.
"It doesn't matter where you go in the world, firefighters are family."