Rhinelander’s used fire equipment headed for Nicaragua
By Lori Adler, reporter
Some of the Rhinelander Fire Department’s old and expired equipment is being donated to help those less fortunate…namely firefighters in Nicaragua. Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas (a charity organization located in Stevens Point) provides needed items to Nicaragua, including fire equipment.
“To afford new equipment is impossible for them,” Rhinelander Fire Chief Terry Williams explained,
“What’s cool about this program is the stuff that we’re donating normally would go into a dumpster,” Williams said, “However, Nicaragua is such a poor country that they can actually use this stuff, and it’s really even better than what they have.”
Fire gear is only certified for up to 10 years and then becomes expired. U.S. regulations prohibit the selling of expired equipment, and no other fire agency in the country can use it.
While Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners has been around since the 1970’s, the donation of firefighting equipment began in 2000. Since then, Wisconsin fire departments have donated 38 fire trucks, 26 ambulances and a variety of fire gear. Williams became aware of the program through other fire chiefs about two years ago.
Williams said, “It was just a much better idea to me than throwing it in the dumpster.”
Rhinelander Fire Department will be donating rescue airbags for lifting heavy equipment, nozzles and hose appliances, a thermal imaging camera and a lot of miscellaneous gear.
“In a sense, you’re helping the public,” Williams remarked, “It may not be your community, but you’re taking your expired things and knowing that it’s potentially saving lives somewhere else.”
Rhinelander’s common council gave the approval on January 27 for the department to make the donation. Now, department members will go through all the expired gear and gather anything that can be donated, and then a date will be set to deliver it to Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners.
Williams added, “I think it’s pretty neat that we’re still able to, in effect, save lives and property somewhere else with things that we don’t use anymore.”
For more information on the Wisconsin/Nicaragua Partners of the Americas, visit www.wisnic.org.