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Fire departments donating gear to Moldova community
Shipping costs are expected to be around $5,500
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The Gainesville Fire Department Chief Jon Canada, left, and Hall County Fire Services Fire Marshal Scott Cagle browse through some of the old turnout gear the two departments are donating to a fire department in Moldova.

Local firefighters are cleaning out their closets for a cause.

The Gainesville, Hall County and Commerce fire departments will be donating outdated equipment to Moldova, an impoverished eastern European nation between Romania and Ukraine.

According to Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada, they are legally required to retire their $2,000 firefighting suits after 10 years of use.

But this year, instead of destroying or storing the old turnout gear, Canada said they have decided to donate 29 sets to a Moldovan fire department in the city of Chisinau.

According to an inventory, some of the donated items were originally purchased in 1991, but Canada said they're still functional.

"It's a neat feeling to know you're helping," he said.

The departments' relationship with the Moldovan firefighters began three years ago when Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle visited Chisinau on a mission trip.

"I went over there and saw what the fire department was using," he said.

"I just thought I could help send some of our equipment. Even though it's old to us, it's very new and modern to them."

Cagle said the 15-person crew answering calls for 35,000 citizens uses a Soviet Union fire engine with original tires from the 1970s.

Instead of turnout gear, the men wore rubber raincoats and used candles to search for house fire survivors.

"That's what worried us," he said.

"They were wearing something that could actually be melted to them when they went into a fire. ... We knew we were going to have some older turnout gear that we were going to discard. But instead, we could let them use it and it would be 10 times better than what they were using to begin with."

Shortly after he returned from his trip, Hall County and Commerce firefighters shipped a container to the money-strapped department. Cagle said it was full of beds, hand tools, ropes, turnout gear, helmets, uniforms and clothes.

Right now, the equipment is going to outfit the Chisinau department, but Cagle said he soon hopes to branch out and help others.

After sending a letter describing the need to local firefighters, the Gainesville Fire Department got onboard.

Canada said they took inventory, and found they were able to donate the 29 sets of turnout gear.

Cagle said Cornerstone International Ministries will take care of the shipping costs, which he expects to be around $5,500.

"There's a brotherhood with being a firefighter no matter where you're at," Cagle said.

"We just wanted to help those guys out so they won't put their lives in danger because of what they're not wearing."

 

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