Okanagan firefighters have pitched in to help their counterparts working in Ukraine.
Kelowna Fire department and Vernon Fire Rescue recently donated 50 sets of firefighter turnout gear, 50 SCBA cylinders, boots, helmets and equipment to Firefighter Aid Ukraine, an organization that was established in 2014.
Kelowna firefighter Bo Kutsiuruba, born and raised in Ukraine, established a relationship with the Edmonton Fire Department, which has been donating its gear to Firefighter Aid Ukraine for many years. Last week, Kutsiuruba personally delivered a trailer full of equipment to Edmonton and it was then flown to Ukraine.
“The Firefighting profession transcends borders and oceans. We are all cut from the same cloth with a passion for duty and to serve our communities and keep them safe. It’s a true fraternity of those in this profession. When we see our brothers and sisters staying and serving in the utmost horrifying conditions it makes us all want to help them out as much as we can,” said Jason Picklyk, president of Kelowna Firefighters.
“I’m so proud of Bo and those who donated and collected the gear and for spearheading this venture to assist the firefighters in Ukraine. I would also like to thank Edmonton Firefighters, as well, to have space for the shipping of our donation. It may not be a lot of what they require but it comes with our compassion and support for those in this devastating situation they are in.”
Donating used gear is not new for the Kelowna Fire Department. It has been sending shipments to countries in South America through the non-profit organization Firefighters Without Borders for several years. Members of the department have even volunteered their time to train firefighters in Peru and Mexico.
The gear that is being donated has reached the end of its service time based on WorkSafeBC regulations; however, it is still thought to be in better condition than that being used by developing countries or in this case by the firefighters in Ukraine.