Your trusted place for Sierra Leone and global news
HomeFeaturedCollingdale USA firefighter aims to help colleagues in Sierra Leone

Collingdale USA firefighter aims to help colleagues in Sierra Leone

Collingdale USA firefighter aims to help colleagues in Sierra Leone

COLLINGDALE, USA – With stacks of Nike shoe boxes, bags and plastic containers crammed into a basement rental room, a volunteer firefighter is hoping to finish what he started a year ago: A dream to help some of the world’s poorest emergency responders.  (Photo: Al Saccoh is nearly lost in storage room full of fire equipment that he has collected by donation from fire departments across Delaware County. On May 17, Saccoh will hold a fundraiser to collect the money needed to send the equipment back to his home nation of Sierra Leone. Rick Kauffman — Daily Times)

For a year, Alhaji Saccoh, a 30-year-old Collingdale Fire Co. No. 1 firefighter and Sierra Leone native, has been collecting gear and equipment from Delaware County fire companies to take to his home country.

In June 2013, the Aldan resident visited the country’s capital, Freetown, and was struck by the conditions endured by the 300 firefighters in the National Fire Force, which serves a population of 2 million.

“Their morale is bad,” Saccoh said. “Folks treat them like crap.”

He explained that their hoses have holes in them, which creates less water pressure while in use and people get angry at the firefighters.

They also don’t have proper gear, responding to calls in just their clothes, and they have to sleep on the floor — all for $50 a month and a bag of rice.

That’s why Saccoh reached out to his fellow firefighters here.

“When I started this, I was thinking maybe 50 tops,” he said of gathering a bunker set, which includes a helmet, a coat, pants and suspenders, gloves and boots that cost approximately $500 each.

Instead, he has collected more than 200 sets.

“This jacket,” Saccoh said pointing to one of the donated ones, “is really, really good for the guys over there. People will start to look at the firefighters differently, respect them in the proper gear.”

Once the gear arrives, it will have a long life.

“They can use these exact gears for at least 10 years, at a minimum,” he said. “That’s a lot of calls, if used effectively.”

To get it there, Saccoh is hosting a fundraiser from 5-10 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, at the Collingdale Fire Co. No. 1 on Clifton Avenue, in which he hopes to collect the $3,500 needed to ship the materials. The dinner will feature African specialties, such as sambussa, Ethiopian injera, plaintains, couscous and beef patties, as well as music and raffles. Alcohol will not be served.

Initially, Saccoh planned to go in October, but the Ebola crisis and its subsequent travel ban restricted his ability to do so. But, he’s been keeping in touch with the fire chief there in the meantime.

“I haven’t forgotten you guys,” Saccoh said, adding that there was no way he could.

When he returns next month, he plans to run some calls with them as a way to raise awareness of their situation.

“The guys right there sleep on the floor,” Saccoh said. “I’m not looking to do anything different. So, I will sleep on the floor with them to show their struggle.”

He said he will do what it takes to get the equipment there.

“I saw their faces,” Saccoh said. “I promised these guys. You have to keep a promise.”

Right now, all the bunker gear is packed in the storage unit and compression units. Oxygen tanks and hoses are being stored elsewhere because it can’t fit.

Saccoh hopes people come and enjoy a night of festivities to help him fulfill his mission.

“People should come down,” he said. “It’s only $20.”

Besides, it could be a part in helping responders a world away help others. “It’s going to help save their lives, with this stuff,” Saccoh said. “I’m sure it will be the start of a new day for them.”

A dinner/fund raiser is being held Sunday, May 17 from 5-10 p.m. at the Collingdale Fire Co. No. 1, 510 Clifton Ave. in Collingdale. Tickets are $20 each and can be had by calling 515-639-0730 or emailing info@slchildren.org.

By Kathleen E. Carey, Delaware County Daily Times

Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!

© 2015, https:. All rights reserved.

Share With:
Rate This Article
No Comments

Leave A Comment