MCFRS News Release

Firefighting Gear Going to Afghanistan

Fire fighting gear has been sent to a rural forward operating base in Afghanistan. The gear which could no longer be utilized by the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service was sent on Monday morning, April 17, 2006 from the U.S. Post Office on Shady Grove Road.

Montgomery County Fire Captain Fred Probst and Fire Fighter III Jim Wilhelm, both of whom are part of the Operations Division and assigned to Takoma Park, Fire Station 2, were contacted by a former Montgomery County firefighter and most recently Hollywood, Florida firefighter, Tony Vera. Tony is with the Florida Army National Guard and is currently engaged in action in Afghanistan with a National Guard unit. Although significant progress outfitting and training Iraqi firefighters apparently has been made in recent years in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan is quite different.

Coordinated by the Logistics Section, Administrative Services Division, personnel at the warehouse in Rockville were able to find, sort and collect various surplus items of protective firefighting equipment in order to accommodate the request for gear. After researching the most expeditious manner of delivery to Afghanistan, Logistics Section staff packaged the gear in a dozen boxes for shipment via U.S Postal Service.

The firefighting gear ensemble included coats, pants, boots, hoods, helmets, gloves and other associated items enough to outfit an entire fire company of about a dozen or so firefighters.

The used fire fighting personal protective equipment is being donated and will be utilized by United States military reservists, many of whom have firefighting backgrounds and will put their collective training to use providing another degree of fire protection to their forward operating base.

The gear was shipped via U.S Post Office at Shady Grove. Shipping costs were covered by Captain Probst and Firefighter Wilhelm.

In 2004, fire fighting gear and some hazardous device mitigation equipment was sent to Bagdad, Iraq for use by Coalition Provisional Authority public safety personnel. Retired Montgomery County Assistant Chief, Monte Fitch, working as a contractor in the Bagdad area had been working with Iraqi firefighters for months and assisted with this effort.

Previously, the used fire fighting personal protective equipment and uniform apparel was donated to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. At the time, that donation was made via coordination with The White House, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Washington Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. It was shipped on military transport.