It’s been quite a fire drill for a couple of volunteer firefighters from Peru.
Marco Yangali and Estafania Galarza Morales are conducting a whirlwind tour of fire departments on the Island and Lower Mainland to soak up as much training as possible as part of a Firefighters Without Borders Canada initiative.
Yangali, 23, and Galarza Morales, 21, were invited to B.C. by a Firefighters Without Borders Canada contingent that included Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop and Lt. Dylan Walsh, who travelled to Peru in April.
Yangali, chief of fire investigation and prevention for Callao hall No. 15, near Lima, and Galarza Morales, assistant chief for hall No. 23 in Garibaldi, are spending July 20 to Aug. 10 training at departments in Metchosin, Langford, Oak Bay, Sidney, Otter Point and Saltspring Island.
The two visitors, who have an excellent command of English, have already stayed with departments in Langley, Burnaby, Richmond and Port Moody.
They both have worked as translators for Firefighters Without Borders for the past three years, and jumped at the opportunity to come to Canada for the first time.
“It’s a beautiful country and everyone is very friendly and helpful,” Yangali said during a busy day at the Langford main hall that included time on a ladder truck and the department’s fireboat, as well as time with dispatch and B.C. Ambulance.
“The work here is more technical and they have different standards and procedures that have given us some good ideas that may work well back home.”
All of the firefighters working in Lima and the surrounding area, with a population of 13 million, are volunteers.
Galarza Morales identified improving public education as one of the goals of the trip. “I think we have accomplished that,” she said. All of the halls we visited have provided valuable information to take back home.”
Langford Fire Rescue assistant chief Chris Aubrey said the exchange of ideas has been valuable for all involved. “Both of their halls may do 1,200 calls a month, compared to 1,600 in a year for us here,” Aubrey noted.
“They are well experienced with different calls in a more urban setting, which has provided insight for us.”
Aubrey said that whether firefighters are from Peru, Afghanistan or the U.S., a bond exists based on the experiences firefighters share.
“The language may be different, but the bond transcends territorial boundaries,” he added.
Yangali and Galarza Morlaes said they are overwhelmed by the support, kindness and help they have received during the trip.