Firemen donate equipment to Afghan firefighters

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jamie Humphries
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
A deployed firefighter and a crew chief instructor teamed up with stateside firefighters to donate equipment to Afghan air force firefighters , bringing them one step closer to independent operations.

Airmen from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing and firefighters in Parkton, N.C., teamed up to deliver 80 Nomex hoods needed to further protect the Afghan air force firemen when responding to base emergencies. Nomex hoods are also used by race car drivers, but most commonly by firefighters.

First responders place the hoods on the head above the firefighter's mask to protect exposed portions of the head. The donated hoods will be used by Afghan firefighters assigned to the Afghan air force compound in Kabul.

Master Sgt. Edward Nowak, 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, C-27 production superintendent adviser and the Parkton Volunteer Fire Department assistant fire chief, hatched the idea while discussing the need for equipment with local Air Force firefighter and adviser Master Sgt. Dion Bullock. After Sergeant Bullock explained the need for 40 hoods, Sergeant Nowak contacted his home station association for assistance. The firefighters at Parkton jumped into action to assist their deployed co-worker.

"Firefighting is a brotherhood and sisterhood," Sergeant Nowak said. "I wanted to see if there was anything my fellow firefighters from back home could do to help. I checked with the Robeson County Firefighters Association and county board of supervisors and by the time it was set and done, we had 80 (hoods)."

James Martin, a firefighter and board member of the Firefighters association, spearheaded the volunteer effort to help the Afghans. The equipment was packaged up and sent off by the firefighters to Kabul May 23 and arrived just 10 days later.

"The significance of donating the equipment is in hoping our contribution has made a difference," Mr. Martin said. "We feel it is an honor to help provide needed items to fellow firefighters but the true honor is knowing we are supporting our country's efforts in a another country. As Americans, we are blessed with freedom and the ability to serve God. This makes it our duty to help our fellow man whenever possible."

Now that the Afghan air force firemen have the equipment,  their necks, ears and faces will be protected against temperatures that can burn at more than 1,000 degrees.

"After so many years of war, we in Afghanistan didn't have good equipment," said Sadar Ahmad, an firefighter instructor. "We needed the government to help us but we only have one station in all of Kabul. We didn't have any equipment to use much less teach firefighters how to train."

The only thing I hoped to accomplish was to show the Afghan firefighters that we are a family and we do what we can to help each other out Sergeant Nowak said.