Peruvian firefighters tour HMCS Calgary


Peruvian volunteer firefighters Estefania Moraves, 21, and Marco Abad, 23, tried on fire fighting gear, examined emergency supplies and travelled through the narrow passageways of HMCS Calgary on July 31.

The tour of the Canadian warship focussed on fire safety precautions and gear used on board a Royal Canadian Navy frigate.

Ship firefighter, Sgt Veron Atkinson led the two through every nook and cranny of the ship, from the Officer’s Mess to the machinery control rooms.

“I’ve learned a lot since arriving in Canada,” says Abad.

“I’m paying attention to skills that are different here that I can bring back to Peru to improve my own firefighting techniques.”

The two were invited for a visit to Canada by Firefighters Without Borders member Stephanie Dunlop, the Fire Chief of the Metchosin Fire Department. 

Moraves and Abad spent three weeks touring fire halls in Langley, Burnaby, Sidney, Central Saanich, and Oak Bay, before crossing the brow of Calgary.

When Firefighters Without Borders members visited fire stations in Callao, Peru, three years ago to teach skills courses to volunteers, Dunlop was introduced to the two, who were eager to expand their knowledge of fire fighting with a trip to Canada.

When a big brush fire broke out in Metchosin at the end of July, the two were put on the line and helped get the fire under control.

They were given extrication training and high rescue rope training in Sooke, and have done ride-alongs with the Langford and Salt Spring Island Fire Halls.

The two also toured CFB Esquimalt Fire and Rescue Fire Hall.

As volunteer firefighters, both Moraves and Abad must meet a required number of hours spent in their fire halls each month.

Moraves dashes from her classes as an engineering student to her fire hall multiple times a week, for a total of 31 hours per month.

Abad, who is also studying engineering, spends his weekends or nights at the fire hall near his university, for a total of 20 hours per month.

In Peru, prospective volunteer firefighters begin taking mandatory training courses at 15 years old. To begin working in the fire halls, they must be at least 18.

“I live near my fire hall and saw the firefighters training one day as a teenager,” says Moraves. “I walked right in and asked how I could start.”

Abad says he turned to firefighting when he was 17, after he wasn’t able to become a pilot.  

“We both feel so good doing this job, sometimes we just spend our free time in our fire halls hanging out,” says Abad.

Rachel Lallouz
Staff Writer

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