Peruvian Fire Brigade Receives Advanced Equipment
By Pedro Francisco Hurtado Cánepa/Diálogo August 07, 2017The Peruvian National Fire Brigade has received a substantial contribution through U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) that will improve its operating and response capacities during fires and emergencies. The donation was made on July 12th in a ceremony attended by Peruvian First Lady Nancy Lange and U.S. Ambassador Brian A. Nichols. It included the delivery of 30 fire-resistant suits valued at $45,000. This equipment was allocated to firefighters at the fire departments located in the Santa Anita, Chosica, and Callao districts of Lima. SOUTHCOM assistance This was the second delivery this year. The first was made in January, benefiting the members of the Surco Fire Company in Lima. They received eight firefighter suits and 10 pairs of boots valued at approximately $45,000. “SOUTHCOM’s humanitarian aid in Peru is centered around supporting specific areas such as health, education, and rapid response to emergencies and natural disasters, as well as solving infrastructure problems that include basic solutions such as providing drinking water,” U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gerardo Olivarez, Jr., the HAP coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, told Diálogo. In this case, “the suits delivered [to the firefighters] meet the requested specifications and features.” HAP has donated more than $43 million to Peru since 2006 for the construction of basic infrastructure. “This aid includes building 16 Regional Emergency Operation Centers in a total of 13 regions of Peru, and that investment alone exceeds $20 million,” Lt. Col. Olivarez Jr. reported. “The goal of HAP is to complement the Peruvian government’s actions, not to duplicate those functions,” Lt. Col. Olivarez Jr. said. “HAP’s perspective is to take a comprehensive overview that begins with planning and materializes in the operational capacity for these actions. That’s why it’s essential that the work is coordinated with national and local government representatives, as well as local authorities,” he explained. Properly trained volunteers “In spite of the limitations that exist, the Peruvian National Fire Brigade’s level of training is quite optimal given the longstanding training policy for ‘our men and women in red,’” said Brigadier General Fernando Campos Valdivia, the director general of Operations at the National Fire Brigade. “This volunteer situation is also a constant motivator to get better every day, and to acquire and update our skills on techniques to employ in fire and emergency situations.” The latest emergencies that the National Fire Brigade has responded to have stirred the enthusiasm of dozens of young volunteers who want to join the brigade. It is not a complicated process. They need only go to their nearest fire station, show their ID, and request admission. After receiving some instruction, they must pass physical, psychological, and knowledge tests to be admitted as student firefighters. The basic firefighter school is six months long. If a student passes this module, the person is accepted as a member of the fire department and can request promotions every three years. “This is a 40-year career. Training is free and the government assumes the entire cost,” said Brig. Gen. Campos. “Our agency now has a 33-hectare lot where a future Peruvian firefighter school will be located. We’re working on getting the financing and starting construction.” State-of-the-art equipment “The donated equipment will allow us to improve our response capacity and our involvement in emergency situations,” Brig. Gen. Campos added. “This state-of-the-art equipment, which is used by the best firefighting brigades in Latin America, will allow us to replenish a portion of our firefighting equipment, which has a life cycle of two to three years.” Brig. Gen. Campos reported that the intention is to acquire and replenish 3,500 uniforms nationwide by 2018. There are 9,000 firefighters in Lima alone, and nationally the number exceeds 15,000. Nationwide, the vehicle fleet is made up of 900 vehicles of all types, such as ambulances, rescue teams, tanks, and trucks.