Connecticut fire departments send help to fight Amazon fire

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STAMFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Fire departments across the state are answering the alarm in South America.

Stamford Fire Department is spearheading the effort to collect fire fighting equipment to send to Lima, Peru to help people near the wildfires in the Amazon Rain Forest.

Related: Environmental impact of the Amazon fires

Former Stamford Board of Reps member, Willy Giraldo, is from Peru and fears the flames and smoke may start to spread there.

Giraldo asked Stamford’s Deputy Fire Chief, Matthew Palmer, for any kind of help he could give to his native country, even before the fires started, because firefighting gear and equipment in many towns there is not up to par.

“Unfortunately the government there, they don’t have the funds that they can provide new equipment,” Giraldo told News 8.

In 2011, Stamford partnered with the city of Lima, Peru to become sister cities. “Representatives of the Peruvian community had reached out to us several years ago about some of the air packs we were disposing of at the time, [asking] if we could donate them, which we gladly did,” said Palmer.

When asked to donate this year, Palmer said fire departments across the state “almost instantaneously within an hour or so were sending us emails or calling us directly offering to provide their equipment.”

So far, 12 departments have generously donated equipment and considerably more have called to help.

Donations include hoses, oxygen tanks, fire suits, coats, helmets, and other protective gear.

“Hopefully it gets to the firefighters where it’s most needed…There are firefighters, whether it be in Peru or across Central America and throughout South America, that have little to no equipment at all and are doing the same job.”

– Stamford Deputy Fire Chief, Matt Palmer

According to Palmer, the fire department where the equipment collected in Connecticut is being sent responds not only to fire calls, but emergency medical service requests, technical rescue assistance, and hazardous material response.

Though much of the donated gear has outlasted its service life here, it could still help save lives down there.

The Deputy Chief is hoping the generosity here sends a message to people in South America, saying, “Just that they’re not forgotten. Firefighting is a brotherhood, a sisterhood.”

For Giraldo who still has friends and family in South America, this gift from Connecticut firefighters is a heroic act.

“I’m very grateful to see how the brothers and sisters of the fire departments in Connecticut that respond to the fire departments in Peru,” Giraldo said.

The goal is for all of the gear to be shipped out as soon as possible.

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