The tragedy of September 11, 2001 devastated firefighters across North America including the crew of Station 114 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The five-member “A” shift wanted to commemorate the victims of 9/11, so the firefighters decided to sponsor a child. During a subsequent visit to World Vision’s headquarters, they pored over photographs of 10 children. These men, who constantly make life or death judgements, couldn’t decide which child to help. Finally, firefighter Kevin Bailey, 34, broke the stalemate, choosing a boy from Indonesia. Sadly, Kevin died two weeks later in an off-duty rock climbing accident. “Kevin was a firefighter with a passion for life and a love of humanity,” said the crew’s captain, Alan Hills. “In lieu of flowers at his funeral, his friends and family were asked to make a donation to World Vision. We started thinking how we could honour Kevin’s memory and get even more involved as a crew.” The men contacted World Vision and learned about Ventanilla, Peru, a poor district where a fire had recently left 604 people homeless. The crew felt an immediate connection.
They wanted to help the local volunteer fire brigade to better cope with such disasters. Together, the crew members — Captain Hills, Tom Gojak, Andrew Melville, Aron Reppington, and Jamie Stark — decided to travel to Ventanilla on their own time and at their own expense with World Vision’s Destination Life Change (DLC) volunteer program. Before their trip, the men approached other fire stations and local corporations for donations of equipment, which the Peruvian firefighters desperately needed. They collected firefighting gear, Spanish training manuals, and rescue equipment, including a manual version of the Jaws of Life. “We come from a full-time department with an annual budget of millions of dollars, the latest high-tech equipment, vehicles, and personal protective gear,” says Captain Hills. “The Ventanilla bomberos (firefighters) receive some funding from the National Fire Service of Peru, but they rely on local fundraising to make ends meet.”
The trip ignited a partnership. Their counterparts in Ventanilla were thankful for the training and for the Canadians’ generosity. “This was our first experience in receiving brother firefighters from overseas,” says Captain Raul Thais. “We didn’t expect to receive so much equipment, but we are really grateful because it was needed for so long.” On their last day together, all the firefighters signed an “Act of Brotherhood,” committing to work together for their communities’ safety. Kevin Bailey would be proud of all they accomplished together. Kevin Bailey was one firefighter with a dream for a strong organization which reaches out whenever there is a need. Today, Firefighters Without Borders continues to honour Kevin by reaching out to communities in Canada and around the world.
2001 – In memory of the tragedy of September 11th, Mississauga Fire Station 114, “A” shift, decide to commemorate the victims by sponsoring a child through World Vision. Firefighter Kevin Bailey was part of that team.
2002 – Tragically Kevin Bailey died in a tragic rock climbing accident in February in New York state. In lieu of flowers at his funeral, his friends and family were asked to make a donation to World Vision. This started the team thinking how they could honour Kevin’s memory and get even more involved where firefighting services are needed.
2002 – Firefighters Without Borders is founded, bringing equipment and training in the first of two missions to Ventinilla, Peru where 604 families had recently lost their homes to fire. In partnership with World Vision Canada, Firefighters Without Borders provided training and equipment in fire suppression and medical response.
2004 – A second mission to Ventinilla, Peru takes place conducting courses in First Aid, CPR, Hazardous Materials and Vehicle Extrication. A heavy vehicle mechanic accompanies the mission to teach pumper operations and vehicle maintenance
2009 -The first in a series of six missions to Honduras in partnership with World Vision and the Honduran National Fire Service. Following Firefighters Without Borders model of sustainability trainers were trained in CPR, First Aid and provided techniques of instruction for Adult Learners. These trainers from Tegucigalpa, El Progresso and Yorrow spread this valuable training throughout fire services across the country
2010 – The next in our series of sustainable training was in vehicle extrication, delivered to a core group of 35 Honduran Firefighter trainers. Vehicle rescue equipment is also provided to support the program.
2010 – We returned to Yojoa, Honduras to conduct a Hazardous Materials Awareness session empowering Honduran Fire Service trainers to replicate the training on a national level.
2011 – We returned to Valle De Angeles, Honduras to conduct a Hazardous Materials Awareness session in the Spring and again in the Fall to teach breathing apparatus operations and maintenance as well as vehicle extraction techniques in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
2012 – Continuing to equip tomorrow’s heros, Firefighters Without Borders conducted public education sessions on fire prevention for children as well as conducting our first Fire Service Extrication Competition in partnership with the Honduran Fire Service
With help from our volunteer team and fire departments across Canada, we’ve been able to collect helmets, bunker gear, ladders, gas monitors, medical bags, boots and more from over 50 different fire departments.
We are dedicated to providing equipment, training and support for fire service agencies in need. We focus on sustainable support through strategic planning, onsite training of emergency services providers, members of the community, school children and families and ongoing support. Firefighters Without Borders looks beyond the immediate need, looking at long term, multi-staged projects if necessary, to ensure long term safety in the community. Fire prevention and public education programs are key components of our long term sustainability approach.