Dylan Walsh is one of two Metchosin firefighters heading to Peru as part of a Firefighters Without Borders training initiative

Firefighters giving back through training initiative

Two Metchosin firefighters are off to Peru to help train others

They’re packed and pumped for a trip to Peru.

Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop and Lt. Dylan Walsh will fly to Lima, Peru on March 31 to help train firefighters in less populated locations in the South American country, including Tacna, Cusco and Torata.

The two are part of a 12-member team that includes firefighters from Vancouver, Salt Spring Island, Kelowna, north Vancouver Island, Sudbury, Ont. and California as part of a Firefighters Without Borders Canada initiative.

Firefighters Without Borders Canada is a charitable organization that supplies used fire equipment, vehicles and training to countries all over the world that are challenged by disasters and a lack of funding.

“It’s really gratifying to go back and see the difference the training and equipment has made,” said Dunlop, who has been with the Metchosin Volunteer Fire Department for 13 years, serving as chief for the past seven. “Going back enables you to build relationships and get a better sense of the progress the departments have made and the positive impact we make through the training and supplying of equipment.”

Individuals volunteering with Firefighters Without Borders Canada pay for their travel expenses and use personal vacation time to help train economically challenged fire departments all over the world. Host departments help out with expenses where possible, and the costs are further reduced by providing accommodations at the halls where training is conducted. The team will break into smaller units of three or four firefighters to maximize the number of locations they can assist.

Used equipment is shipped separately – due to the paperwork and shipping requirements – so the firefighters can maximize training during the time they are there. The Metchosin department donated a water tender truck to the fire department in Torata last year.

This will mark the third time Dunlop, the team lead, has been to Peru to assist local departments, and she is looking forward to the challenge.

She’ll meet with Canada’s Ambassador to Peru to go over logistics and help reduce red tape.

As for Walsh, the trip will mark only his second time away from Canada, other than a vacation to Costa Rica.

“This will be a totally new experience and an opportunity to broaden my horizons,” said the three-year Metchosin volunteer.

He said feedback he received from members who have made trips in past with Firefighters Without Borders Canada was definitely a motivating factor for his decision to get on board.

Dunlop and Walsh, who are scheduled to return April 19, are hopeful that an 11-hour layover in Newark, N.J. will allow them enough time to visit the World Trade Centre site in New York, where thousands of first responders died assisting others during the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Paying your respects to those who gave their lives in service is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Dunlop said.



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