Canadians Sending Afghanistan Firefighting Equipment
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Canadians Sending Afghanistan Firefighting Equipment (CAN S.A.F.E.) is a Langford Fire Rescue initiative, in partnership with Brotherhood of The Badge International, to bring training and donated equipment to the firefighters of Afghanistan.
First established as a humanitarian coalition between Rotary Clubs, Canadian Forces, the City of Langford, and Langford Fire Rescue in the wake of the invasion of Afghanistan, CAN S.A.F.E. sought to donate fire rescue gear from across Canada to ill-equipped firefighters in that war-torn country.
In 2004, Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett along with firefighters Geoff Spriggs and Dave Morris accompanied CAN S.A.F.E.'s first shipment of equipment to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, Beckett realized the degree of the local firefighters' plight in Kabul.
"A city of millions… with four or five fire halls with very little equipment: no personal gear; no personal protection," said Beckett. "They were in shirts and pants going into fires."
Two years later, Langford Fire Rescue hosted the District Fire Chief of Kabul, Atiquilla Muhammadulla, for an update on the Kabul Fire Department. To illustrate the change, Atiquilla recited an account of a girl who fell into a well, a common feature of many Afghan homes.
"The Fire Department was called to the rescue," said Atiquilla. "Because of the equipment the firefighters had with them, they were able to rescue the little girl."
Since 2004, Langford Fire Rescue has partnered with Brotherhood of the Badge International - a similar non-profit organization out of Fresno, California - to continue the cultural exchange and donations of equipment between North American firefighters and their Middle Eastern counterparts.
In 2009, this partnership brought four Afghan public safety officers to Fresno, California where they trained with local police and fire departments, and Langford Fire Rescue. The goal was to train the officers in advanced public safety techniques to aid in the overall peace process in Afghanistan.
In the summer of 2010, CAN S.A.F.E. was instrumental in bringing two Afghan doctors to the south Island and Vancouver to tour Canadian medical facilities. Their main drive was to raise awareness of the dilapidated state of their hospital and acquire better equipment to save those in the war-ravaged Kandahar district.
"Take a look in the mirror, and take look at what you and your family have. And then look in the faces of the Afghan children and tell me things are on par," said Beckett. "I challenge you to go to Afghanistan and say that you don't have a responsibility to make a difference there."
For more information about CAN S.A.F.E. or to donate contact Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett.
- Times Colonist - Afghan doctors seek vital medical devices