By Dustin Luca
The Salem News
SALEM, Mass. — These fire truck-sized greeting cards come from the City of Peace, with love.
Today, the North Shore sends to Ukraine four working emergency vehicles, 85 sets of firefighter breathing gear alongside 96 "full sets of turnout gear" and 26 fire helmets, 18 pairs of boots, 44 fire hoses, and ample thoughts and prayers written in black and red ink.
A reserve pumper truck from Salem Fire and three smaller vehicles from Salem and Wenham will be collected by U.S. Ambulances For Ukraine Thursday for transport to a port in Maryland. From there, it will all be sent on a sensitive, well-guarded journey through Europe and into Ukraine.
Once in Ukraine, the equipment — much of it in perfect, unused condition but deemed out of service due to its age — will be put to use defending the country in the war against Russia, which recently hit the 500-day mark.
Andersen Engle, a Salem man, sat contemplatively by the truck Wednesday afternoon as Salem employees and their families, and passersby signed the trucks with messages of support in front of the Salem Fire headquarters on Lafayette Street.
After he stepped away from the truck, the reason why became evident: a drawing of the Ukranian crest alongside the American flag, drawn in black on a silver flap protecting a gas cap.
"It's a good representation of the union of our two countries that's going on right now," Engle said. "It's great that we get to participate in this and doing things — maybe not in Ukraine, but here."
Nancy Rousselle, a Hollis, Maine resident vacationing in the area and friend of fire Chief Al Dionne, wanted to hit headquarters to lend her words of encouragement to the donation as well.
"I wrote, 'our prayers are with you, and you're in our thoughts,'" Rousselle said. "I just hope it sends reassurance that other people are here thinking of them, and that they're not alone."
Several city councilors and their families turned out to sign the truck, including Jeff Cohen, councilor to Ward 5.
When discussing his message to Ukraine, Cohen mentioned recently discovering that his elders were Ukrainian, after learning that their emigration to the United States in 1919 came as a consequence of the Russian Revolution.
"We think of sending arms, but sending equipment — fire equipment, equipment to help people that are injured or wounded… everyone seems to be pitching in for a good cause," Cohen said. "I'm out here because I'm really proud that our chief, who went to Ukraine on his vacation to bring equipment, has rounded up more equipment not only from Salem firefighters but other communities to help protect their democracy."
The donation was boosted by a last-minute donation of a rescue vehicle from Wenham, bringing Salem's donation from three vehicles full of gear to four. All four will be loaded on a pair of flat-bed trucks — including the pumper — Thursday to be shipped out of Baltimore.
Along the way, the vehicles are expected to pick up more signatures and well wishes by those that help move them along their journey, Dionne said.
Many of the pieces of gear would need to be destroyed despite never being used for regulatory reasons, Dionne said. Other pieces of gear — like older Jaws of Life replaced by newer, more efficient versions — can also be put to re-use through the efforts.
"Some of the stuff I was loading into the vehicles was brand new, stuff we can't use by regulation," Dionne said. "This is a great opportunity to outsource this material to a really great cause."
The "material," making up a list shared by Salem fire Chief Al Dionne, is an extensive inventory of gear and tools that will be put to re-use in Ukraine in its defense against Russia.
85 full sets of Scott 4.5 self-contained breathing apparatus with masks in excellent, like-new condition
96 full sets of turnout gear in good to excellent condition
26 fire helmets in excellent condition
18 pairs of boots in good condition
25 sets of gloves and hoods in good condition
32 lengths of 2 1/2" hose
7 length of 1 3/4" hose
5 lengths of 4" hose
More than 30 different types of nozzles, as well as four steamer caps, four gated pump inlet valves, and four hydrant assist valves
More than 100 pump and hose fittings, reducers, adapters, and more
3 deck gun portable monitor sets with combination nozzles and solid stream nozzles
2 complete sets of Hurst tools (jaws/cutters/rams) with hydraulic lines
2 complete sets of four-bag rescue airbags
Honda 3500 generator
2 exhaust fans