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Carbondale department’s old gear is another’s treasure

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The Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District has once again arranged to donate gear to a fire department in Puerto Arista, Chiapas, Mexico with help from local Mike Carter.

Expired “bunker gear” — including jackets, pants, boots, flashlights and helmets — had been piling up in the basement of the firehouse before Chris DeMeyer made it his mission to find a home for it.

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“I just wanted to make sure it would get into hands that would use it,” he explained. “We’re all kind of brothers and sisters, but some firefighters don’t have the tools we’re so fortunate to have.”

According to Fire Chief Rob Goodwin, much of the gear is perfectly serviceable, but non

compliant with National Fire Protection Association standards, making it legally problematic to use domestically.

“Everything has an expiration date,” he observed.

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But Mexican agencies aren’t held to the same standards, and can thus make use of old gear, medications and the like. In fact, Carbondale Fire once donated an ambulance to the same department, which DeMeyer believes is still in use.

Carter was involved in that effort too, and turned out to be DeMeyer’s best bet for getting the gear across the border despite several more formal organizations dedicated to that mission. When he returns from India — attempts to reach him for comment there resulted in time-difference phone tag — he’ll be making the trip down south almost immediately.

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Don’t worry, though, the fire department still has plenty of old gear for the kids to use on Independence Day.