Clack. fire crews share resources worldwide

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by Abbey Gibb and KGW.com Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 15 at 10:57 AM

CLACKAMAS, Ore. -- A group of local firefighters are making a difference all over the globe, as they fly to third-world countries giving donated supplies and priceless knowledge.

"Equipment is such a big deal for these small towns. They would be fighting fire in what you and I would wear on the street," Clackamas County firefighter Burke Slater explained.

He's sitting on the cold concrete of his fire house rolling up donated Nomex pants and firefighting helmets.

"I'm trying to count, actually," Slater said, counting how many times they've packed and how many trips they've taken. "Honestly, I've lost count. Uzbekistan, Columbia, Peru, I think this is number seven."

The crew is packing this time for a trip to the Dominican Republic.

"They don't have any equipment," said founder, Capt. Don Davis. "They don't have any ambulance. They don't have any way to do their job on a daily basis."

And that's where these men come in, using their own vacation time, usually three weeks, and paying for their own flights.

These local firefighters from Clackamas County fly around the world teaching tens of thousands of people each year the art of being a firefighter.

"We want them to know what we know. They have nothing for uniforms. This is like starting from scratch," Davis added.

They give away donated equipment or equipment the U.S. can't use.

"The service life on this helmet is ten years. It's brand new, it's never been used but we can't use it," he said.

The program started when Davis traveled to Peru in 2004 with a separate relief organization.

"I found across the board they didn't have the tools to do their jobs. I came home, I was frustrated, I was venting. One of my colleagues suggested, 'Why don't you do something about it?'" Davis said.

"I came up with an organization called Global Mission Readiness. In three short years we went from that one small project in Peru to 21 projects in 12 different nations. We also teach rope rescue, water rescue, urban search and rescue."

They're packing to make sure every inch, every moment, counts. This started out with just four men. Now they have more than 60 volunteers from all over the West Coast.

They also go back to each of these countries for follow-up training.

They find that for every hundred they teach, those hundred teach another thousand in their native country.

The program is based solely on donations. If you would like to donate funds, airline miles, vouchers, or medical supplies check out their website: globalmissionreadiness.org

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