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This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation

 

 

Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 13:59 GMT
Fire crews help Patagonian team


Welsh fire and rescue teams have answered a Trans-Atlantic call for help from colleagues in Patagonia.

A fire crew in the Argentinian town of Gaiman is struggling with ageing equipment and appealed to its Welsh counterparts for assistance.

One fire engine used to serve 6,000 people in the Welsh settlement is almost 60 years old.

The three Welsh fire forces are donating protective suits and rescue equipment, including cutting gear.

It followed the appeal from Tatiana Rogers, secretary of the Gaiman Fire Service, who has been learning Welsh at Bangor University, Gwynedd.

Ms Rogers, 29, said she was delighted with the help offered from Wales.

She added: "I am happy and the firemen in Gaiman will be happy.


Gaiman fire brigade
It is going to make the whole town much, much happier and boost the morale of the fire brigade as well
Ed Gold

"The cutting gear will be really useful. The roads are boring and straight and people often fall asleep."

Simon Smith, Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are happy to be able to support the firefighters and the communities of Gaiman by donating equipment that will benefit them and assist in delivering a better service.

"We have a strong historical and cultural link with this part of Patagonia, and were keen to do all that we could to help.

"We hope that our donations will make a difference to their work in preventing, protecting and responding to fires and other incidents across the region."

Volunteers

The equipment being provided by the Welsh fire teams has already been used by crews here, and is now surplus.

But Ms Rogers, 29, said the second-hand rescue gear was still more modern than that used by firefighters 8,000 miles (13,000km) away in her home town.

Gaiman is served by two fire engines - one which was built in 1949, and a second which has been in service since the early 1970s.

The 19-strong fire crew are mostly volunteers, with only three members of the team receiving any wages.

Gaiman was one of the first towns built by Welsh settlers who travelled to the region in search of a new life at the end of the 19th Century.

It retains a distinct Welsh identity, with chapels and cafes offering traditional Welsh teas scattered across the town.

The plight of the firefighters had also been championed by Ms Rogers's partner, north Wales photographer Ed Gold, who met her while spending a year in Patagonia documenting Welsh life in the region.

"This is a very good start, we are very, very happy, especially with the hardware, the cutting gear," he said.

"To put it into perspective, the population of the country is half of that in Britain, but it has twice the number of deaths of the road.

"If they have the equipment to deal with that situation then hopefully it is going to save lives and it is going to make the whole town much, much happier and boost the moral of the fire brigade as well."