Derek Dickson, Telkwa’s Fire Chief, has recently returned from Peru where he was part of an international team training local firefighters.
From Nov. 9-21, Dickson along with colleagues from White Rock, Surrey and Kansas were in the Sacred Valley region of Peru, also known as the “Gateway to Machu Picchu.”
They were anchored in the village of Pisac to work with the hosts from Unit (fire station) B131, to deliver training to more than 50 Bomeros (regional firefighters) in Incident Command, Auto Extrication, HazMat and First Aid.
Dickson is a founding member of the volunteer-based Fire Rescue International Training Association (FRITA) and this was his fourth visit to Peru and 13th international deployment. Other destinations included Paraguay, Mexico and El Salvador.
FRITA was formed to be an entity solely focused on the delivery of training-based international aid.
The board of FRITA comprises individuals with extensive international experience managing or leading cumulatively over 25 deployments of fire service professionals to El Salvador, Paraguay, Thailand, Peru, Columbia, Chile, Belize, Anguilla and Panama.
The origins of the group date back to 1994 when a small group of firefighters from the Lower Mainland started with an a shipment of donated equipment to El Salvador. Their belief was, and still is, that shared knowledge through training has the greatest value for their brothers and sisters serving their communities as first responders in countries around the world.
“By establishing true partnerships with each recipient country’s national fire service agencies, we aim to meet their needs in a collaborative manner,” their website reads.
Their teams of Canadian fire service instructors come from a wide variety of fire departments from across Canada, with the goal to develop long-term partnerships that will benefit firefighters and the communities they serve.
FRITA instructors are expected to pay for their own flights and associated travel costs while host fire departments make a commitment to provide lodging and meals during the instructional portion.
While FRITA focuses primarily on training in Latin America, in 2019, FRITA instructors also deployed to two First Nations communities in British Columbia.