The GlobalFire team has started classes. We have 45 Bomberos from all over the province of Retalhuleu. They have shown up eager to learn and their gratitude is overwhelming at times. As we get to know them more it is very apparent that fire fighters are the same, no matter where they come from. They wear their uniforms with pride.
The one big difference however is the equipment - their personal protective equipment. The bunker suits are old and tattered. Mostly hand me downs from other departments - with the original wearers name still on the coat - unless the Guatemala Bombero's name is Gibbon or Peterson. Gloves are rare - fire gloves scarce. No flash hoods at all and very few fire boots. Before a practical session today a fire fighter was fixing a hole in the toe of his boot by taping it. Helmets were a wide selection with one being a hard hat with a Bombero sticker on the front and a chin strap.
There is always difficulty with instruction and translation but this has been a little easier as all of our translators are fire fighters.
We spent the first day in the classroom doing some basic fire fighting curriculum such as fire behaviour, size-up, fire control, reading smoke and ventilation. In the morning the officers were broken away and taken for an Incident Management program. They had no system in place and with what we witnessed at the mass casualty incident it might be beneficial.
Day two was a little of in the classroom but the rest on the fire ground. Like most fire fighters they were ready to hit some hands on training. The Bomberos got hands on work with deploying and advancing a hose line, hose load and bundles, water streams, exterior and interior fire attack with door control. They all participated and asked lots of questions trying to get more info.
The heat was brutal and the usual afternoon heavy rains rolled through. They did not cool the day but certainly did get everyone a little wetter.