North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring is calling on municipalities across the Island and the province to donate any spare firefighting equipment they have to help out firefighters in Odessa, Ukraine.
Siebring said he received a phone call from his friend Ken Charko, a Ukrainian who lives in Vancouver but returned to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa to help out as best he can as Odessa faces increased bombing from Russian forces, asking for assistance.
“He was deeply distressed by the aftermath of the overnight bombing there; most specifically the fact that the fire department in Odessa is seriously under-equipped to deal with the kinds of fires that have broken out there,” Siebring said.
“He asked for help, specifically whether North Cowichan had any old or obsolete firefighting equipment we could donate to the Odessa department. His list of needs includes helmets, coats , first-aid kits, thermal underwear, backpacks. flashlights, boots, gloves, sleeping bags and protective vests.”
Siebring said he told Charko that he would check with North Cowichan’s fire halls to see what equipment is available to send to Odessa.
He said he was attending the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities convention in Victoria, which was held from April 1-3, when he received the phone call from Charko, and he let all the delegates there know about the request from Odessa and many municipal leaders have said they will also check with their fire departments to determine what equipment is available to send to the city.
“It’s hard to say just how much equipment we can get together to send to Odessa at this stage,” Siebring said.
“Some municipalities may have lots of extra equipment while others may not. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Siebring said he has an address for a safe house in Krakow, Poland, from where Charko will distribute the donated equipment into Ukraine.
He said he had initially suggested that participating municipalities get together and pay for a shipping container to deliver the equipment, but the preference if for individual boxes that can be more easily transported once they arrive in Krakow.
“Also, that way everyone bears their own shipping costs rather than trying to find a way to pay for the shipment of a large container,” Siebring said.
Siebring encouraged any local government that can help out with the cause to email him at email@example.com and he will provide the shipping address of the safe house in Krakow.