Published DateLACONIA — Firefighters at the Central Station yesterday piled up protective clothing they call "turnout gear" as members of the N.H. National Guard prepared to load the items into a box truck.
The gear is bound for San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador and the "sister country" of New Hampshire.
According to Deputy Chief Shawn Riley, the National Guard — in this case the 12th Civil Support Team — periodically takes things that can no longer be used or is no longer wanted by many New Hampshire communities to the Central American country that was the site of a prolonged civil war in the 1970s and 1980s and has regular earthquakes — the last one recorded on April 20.
Riley, who was in the Central American nation about 10 years ago, said it's not uncommon to see firefighters who are not wearing protective clothing to go into burning buildings or buildings damaged from earthquakes.
He said the equipment being donated by Laconia is about 10-years-old and can no longer be used according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Deputy Chief Deb Pendergast said there are about 15 sets of gear that will be sent to San Salvador's fire department. She said Laconia gets new equipment about every five years, uses the existing equipment as back-up for about five years and then must discard it or give it some place outside the United States.
In the past, Riley said the department has donated SCBA or breathing apparatus to El Salvador. Lt. Col. John Logsdon said a few years ago, the unit brought musical equipment donated by Derry schools to El Salvador.
CAPTION: (Fire Department 001) Members of the Laconia Fire Department and members of the N.H National Guard 12th Civil Support Team surround used turnout gear that will be taken to El Savador's capital San Salvador for use by thier fire departments. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)