Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP), was the inspiration of ex-Avon Chief Fire Officer, Dave Hutchings, who witnessed a fatal road traffic collision when holidaying in The Gambia in 1991.
Dave was shocked to see how little equipment the Gambian firefighters had to work with, compared to his colleagues at home, and vowed to make it his mission to help.
Since then the partnership has gained charity status and has helped hundreds of firefighters, their families and communities along the way. GAFSIP sends equipment that Avon no longer uses to The Gambia and provides vital training to keep their fire and ambulance services running.
The success of this long term working partnership is evident, not only in The Gambia Fire & Rescue Service (GF&RS), but also through the provision of humanitarian aid to local communities.
Each year GAFSIP endeavours to send a shipment to The Gambia containing old firefighting equipment, such as fire kit and boots, old fire engines and rescue boats. This equipment has come to the end of its service life here at Avon, but is of huge value to the people of The Gambia - it's the ultimate in recycling.
To date, over 40 fire and rescue vehicles, breathing apparatus, road accident rescue equipment, airfield crash tenders, rope rescue sets and ancillary vehicles have been donated.
GF&AS now employs more than 1,000 people; the jobs created mean many more families are provided for with security and respect in their communities.
As well as helping the Gambia Fire & Rescue Service, GAFSIP works tirelessly to raise awareness and collect donations for Gambian schools and community groups in need.
Alongside the old fire equipment, the charity sends out blackboards, pens and pencils, books and computers to The Gambia - all donated by local schools and people who want to help those less fortunate than themselves.
AF&RS staff support the charity in many ways, including some extreme charity fundraising events.
These include cycling, canoeing and running across The Gambia, Driving from Bristol to Banjul in a Landrover, and from Bristol to The Gambia in an old Ambulance.
How can you help?
All donations directly benefit the lives of people in The Gambia.
You can make a donation by visiting www.justgiving.com/gafsip/donate or by writing a cheque to: GAFSIP, and sending it to:
The Finance Manager (GAFSIP)
Police & Fire Headquarters
PO Box 37
If you would like to know more about GAFSIP or sponsorship, please visit www.gafsip.org.