City of Rochester
(Wednesday, May 1, 2013) – Mayor Thomas S. Richards announced today that 43 pallets loaded with donated firefighting equipment, along with a donated ambulance are headed to Puerto Plata, Rochester’s sister city in the Dominican Republic.
“Thanks to an unprecedented partnership between Puerto Plata and Rochester’s International Sister Cities Committee (ISCOR) and local volunteers throughout the region, a warehouse full of firefighting gear will soon be put to good use,” said Mayor Richards. “We hope this donation will ultimately translate into lives saved and we are proud to nurture this partnership and highlight an invaluable exchange through our Sister Cities connections.”
A news conference this morning at the Port of Rochester was attended by Rochester’s Deputy Mayor Leonard E. Redon, ISCOR President and Rochester City Councilmember Carolee Conklin, Relton Roland, Chair of the ISCOR Puerto Plata Committee, Firefighters from the Rochester Fire Department and Thomas Bonfiglio of Rural/Metro Medical Services to announce the donation.
This project included the participation of community and fire service partners throughout Monroe County and Western New York, including the Rochester Fire Department, Monroe Community College Public Safety Training Center, Rural/Metro Medical Services, the Skaneateles Rotary Club and many more.
Building upon its 15-year sister city relationship with Puerto Plata, Rochester sent a delegation that included Rochester Firefighters to the coastal community in 2010 to assess the training and equipment needs of the Puerto Plata fire department. “We found was that what little equipment they had was older than our retired gear, which has been taken out of service per federal mandates. We knew this was one way we could help them,” said Lt. Willie Jackson of the Rochester Fire Department. “Once word got out that we were collecting firefighting materials for Puerto Plata, other fire departments started contacting us and the response and collaboration has been tremendous. While the gear no longer has value here, it will be of great value there,” said Deputy Fire Chief John Schreiber.
In 2011, firefighters from Puerto Plata came to Rochester to train with local volunteers at the Monroe Community College Public Safety Training Center on some of the equipment that is now headed their way.
Donated items include fire-proof clothing, helmets, air masks, hoses, ropes, tools and more. Volunteers have spent hours cleaning, repairing and removing lettering from the gear so that it is ready for use and in good condition when it arrives in the Dominican Republic.
The 43 pallets weigh approximately 20,000 pounds combined. They were loaded onto a 53-foot-long trailer truck today for delivery to the Niagara Falls Air Base. An ambulance, donated by Rural/Metro Medical Services and replete with Puerto Plata Fire Department’s logo decals reading “Cuerpo de Bomberos de Puerto Plata,” will be driven to the air base. From there, the items will be flown to Puerto Plata at no charge, by way of the Denton Program. This program allows donors to use available space on military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods and equipment to countries in need.
“The equipment we’re sending will be an invaluable resource not only for the Puerto Plata Fire Department, but for surrounding communities as they share their new found knowledge and train neighboring fire departments,” said Lee Johnson, member of the Puerto Plata Sister Cities Committee.
“The Sister Cities Program is really a point of pride for the City of Rochester and I am happy to be a part of such a worthy project” said Relton Roland, Chairman of the Puerto Plata Rochester Sister Cities Committee. “The level of dedication and professionalism shown by our local firefighters and all of the volunteers who have donated their time and put forth a great effort towards this cause have been an inspiration to us all and we hope that this endeavor will serve as encouragement for compassionate acts for years to come.”
News Media: For more information about the International Sister Cities of Rochester, call Michael Leach at (585) 428-7319. For information about the Rochester-Puerto Plata delegation, contact Relton Roland at 473-5346.