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Cleveland, Ohio- Across the United States, emergency first responders are answering the call to help Ukrainians by sending additional safety gear to the war-torn nation.
A patchwork of collection efforts in at least 10 states have rallied to send hundreds of firefighting gear — turnout gear — to those battling fires and combing debris from Russian missile strikes .
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It all started in March when a Ukrainian American firefighter from Clifton, New Jersey asked local fire departments to donate their used protective gear to the war effort. In the United States, response equipment is generally decommissioned after 10 years, even if it is still serviceable.
Since then, the Clifton Fire Department has received “overwhelming” support from fire departments nationwide who have donated old equipment, department officials said.
Others have been inspired to start similar fundraising efforts where they live.
In Ohio, the Cleveland Maidan Association has organized a donation effort that has collected more than 50 sets of turnout gear so far, including weather-resistant boots, coats, pants, gloves and helmets. fire.
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“When you have that extra support from the world and from people hundreds of thousands of miles away, it has a big impact,” said Nadiya Petriv, a Ukrainian American who organized the donations. “They [Ukrainians] have the people who are willing to work, so we want to make sure that as many people who are willing to help are able to help and that there’s no, you know, risk to their health while try to help other people. “
Petriv told Fox News that the first donation she received from a fire department in Olmsted Township, Ohio sparked a wave of donations across the state.
“You can’t really do your job without it. It’s basically like your body armor,” said Olmsted Township Fire Department Chief Patrick Kelly. “We’re just doing our part to help people in Ukraine. We can’t imagine what they’re going through, but it’s good to know that this equipment is going to be put to good use, and hopefully we can help reduce some of their pain.”
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In addition to safety gear, some US firefighters will travel to Ukraine to assist first responders on the ground. A group of 10 firefighters from San Diego plans to visit the beleaguered country in April.
“All firefighters are built the same. We all want to help our fellow citizens, and this is just an extension of that, helping our brothers and sisters in Ukraine,” said Steve Hirsch, president of the National Volunteer Fire. Council.