BOLTON firefighter Pamela Hall appreciates all of the luxuries associated with living and working in a country like Canada, especially after seeing what life is like for firefighters on the other side of the globe.
In October 2015, Hall travelled to Zimbabwe to stay with a friend and his family whom she had met while taking a weeklong Zimbabwe rock sculpture course in eastern Ontario.
Biggie (Big Brain to his family at home) led the sculpture course, and made friends with Hall who had attended for a few years in a row. So when he invited her to come stay with his family for a few weeks, she jumped at the chance.
During her time there, she had the opportunity to go to the local fire station in Harare and see how things operated.
What she saw, she told the Enterprise, was a group of men who were very proud of the job that they held, making do with the minimal, donated resources available to them.
Their trucks, equipment, and even their uniforms have been donated second hand by fire departments around the globe.
They also only get paid twice a year, once in May and once in December due to the poor economical state of their country and city.
Seeing how hard-working, passionate and excited they were about their jobs despite less than desirable circumstances gave Hall a greater appreciation for what she has as a working firefighter in North America.
And now, almost two years later, she is appealing to her community to help her friends who are in dire need of financial support.
Last year in October, the crew responded to a commercial property fire with reports of people trapped.
“What they weren’t told was that there was 30,000 litres of illegally stored Ethanol inside,” said Hall. “As the fire spread, the Ethanol became involved and it exploded, engulfing the search crew as they looked for the people trapped inside the building.”
Three of the firefighters who Hall met were badly burned. Two of the three were taken to South Africa, away from their family, to receive better medical care than what was available to them in Harare.
“The thing is, they have to foot all of their own medical expenses,” she said. “They got paid in December, but that was actually their May pay, so they really don’t have any money. They’re in South Africa, they have to pay their own way, they have families to support and they have no income. It’s awful.”
Hall immediately sent $500 of her own personal funds and after putting up posters in each of the fire halls throughout the town of Caledon, she has collected another $1,100 but feels as though it is merely a drop in the bucket in terms of costs that the young men will incur during their time in the hospital.
“When they wrote to me to let me know what had happened, they weren’t asking me for anything but I thought, you know what, I can help these guys,” said Hall. “We are so privileged here, and to us it may seem like a small thing to send a few bucks but to them it’s huge.”
The funds from Caledon Fire have already been sent to the families, and Hall has started a GoFundMe account to continue collecting for her friends. For more info, or to donate check out: https://www.gofundme.com/zimbabwe-fire-fighters-burn-victims