Minneapolis firefighters travel to ‘sister city’ in Kenya to train firefighters

Following the donation of a retired City of Minneapolis fire truck last year to Eldoret, Kenya, two Minneapolis firefighters and a mechanic will fly to Kenya Saturday, Jan. 8 to train Eldoret city workers in firefighting and how to use and maintain the truck. The City of Eldoret is paying for all City of Minneapolis staff members’ travel expenses.

Eldoret, one of Minneapolis’ sister cities, is a city of approximately 220,000 people with no reliable equipment for fighting fires (Eldoret’s only reliable fire truck is stationed at the airport and cannot leave the airport). The Minneapolis fire truck (a 1988 pumper truck) arrived in Kenya after an Eldoret delegation visiting Minneapolis in 2008 asked Fire Chief Alex Jackson if the department had any equipment it was getting rid of. Typically, the Fire Department auctions obsolete trucks for parts or scrap metal, but the City and its partner — the International Leadership Institute — found a way to overcome the biggest obstacle to donating the truck: transporting a 31,000 pound truck more than 8,000 miles to Kenya.

To transport the truck to Mombasa, Kenya, the pumper truck was loaded onto a semi truck and hauled from Minneapolis to Baltimore where it was then loaded onto a freighter for a six week sea journey to the port in Mombasa. Eldoret officials then drove the truck to Eldoret, where its arrival was celebrated with a parade. Eldoret’s public works employees (who double as firefighters) now face the challenge of learning how to properly use the pumper truck.

The training program, which was developed by Minneapolis Fire Department, will take two weeks to cover.

The firefighting sessions will cover:

The mechanical training will cover:

Later in January, Fire Chief Alex Jackson will travel to Eldoret to meet with officials and assess Eldoret’s emergency response needs and opportunities as well as celebrate the trainees’ "graduation" at a ceremony set for Friday, January 21.

Published Jan 7, 2011