Avon Fire and Rescue celebrates 20 years of charity support

The Chief Fire Officer for The Gambia Fire & Rescue Service is set to visit Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) to thank the organisation for 20 years of support.

On Thursday 1 December CFO Roger Bakurin will join Avon Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive, Kevin Pearson, for a special event to mark 20 years of The Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP).

GAFSIP was formed in 1991 when former AF&RS Chief Fire Officer Dave Hutchings was on holiday in The Gambia. He witnessed a road traffic collision in which a number of people died due to a lack of fire cover in the country.

Dave was so moved by the tragedy that on his return to Avon he sought the support of the Chair of Avon Fire Authority, Councillor Terry Walker, to raise funds and send equipment no longer being used in Avon to The Gambia.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive, Kevin Pearson, said: “I am immensely proud of the achievements we have made through GAFSIP over the last 20 years. We have really made a difference to the lives of those living and working in The Gambia.

“I would like to thank all our staff who have volunteered to take part in firefighter training sessions in The Gambia over the last 20 years, as they have all done so in their own time and at their own cost. This shows the true spirit and dedication of our staff.

“I would also like to pay tribute to supporters of the charity, including Airbus and Serco, who have donated money, equipment and staff resources to help achieve some of the milestones. This is a truly rewarding project to have been involved in and I hope it will continue well into the future.”

Since the partnership began The Gambia Fire & Rescue Service has employed 1,200 firefighters operating from 13 purpose-built fire stations.

Sea and river rescue equipment is also provided at five water rescue stations and eight clinics on fire stations offer free medical services.

To mark the 20th anniversary a new fire station opened in the Gambian town of Farafenni.

On Thursday 1 December a celebratory event involving supporters, contributors and other key figures from GAFSIP, including The Gambian Chief Fire Officer Roger Bakurin and The Gambia High Commissioner, Lady Elizabeth Harding, will gather at Yate Fire Station to mark the occasion.

Two AF&RS appliances and an ambulance from Airbus will be handed over to The Gambia Fire & Rescue Service.