Fire trucks and ambulance headed to Nicaragua

'We'll do everything. Supply them with all the gear and give them a truck'

The latest Kamloops Fire and Rescue mission to Nicaragua isn't scheduled until spring, but the humanitarian effort is already shipping an ambulance and two fire trucks in advance.

Fire and Rescue will use at least one of the fire engines to help start a fire department in a community that has, until now, survived without one, said firefighter Dave Sakaki.

The community, which is located on Big Corn Island, isn't an anomaly in Nicaragua, he said. Some have a department, but use dump trucks to deliver crews and equipment to a fire. Others have no vehicle at all.

"We'll do everything. Supply them with all the gear and give them a truck," said Sakaki. "We'll get them trained up and set up."

This isn't the first time Operation: Nicaragua has sent emergency vehicles overseas. Whenever Sakaki and the rest of his humanitarian team identify a need and can provide the ambulance or fire engine, they make the arrangements.

It can take days to work out the details with customs and organize shipping, but the effort is well worth it, said Sakaki.

"They go all over the country. We've got one in the north, one in the south," he said. "There's so much need."

The engines are donated or purchased at a reduced price.

The ambulance, two fire trucks and a pair of containers full of goods were shipped out of Kamloops on Tuesday night. Sakaki said this would be an expensive venture in the neighbourhood of $60,000 if not for the contacts he's made.

Buie Cranes does the heavy lifting, moving the containers onto flat-deck trucks that transport the items to Vancouver. Once there, Gearbulk Shipping loads the containers onto a fleet of ships that travel worldwide. They will make the delivery to Nicaragua.

Sakaki said Gearbulk pays the shipping.

"It's amazing. It's tens of thousands of dollars," he said of the project. "It's a big deal to have all this help."

The next Operation: Nicaragua excursion takes place in April.

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