Africa Fire Mission, a year-old non-profit based in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently presented a 20-foot container of firefighter clothing, training materials and medical equipment to the city of Nairobi, Kenya, in a ceremony attended by Evans Kidero, the governor of the city.
The organization was founded last November by Dave Moore, a 20-year fire-fighting professional, following a mission trip to the Missions of Hope schools with his church, LifeSpring Christian Church, Cincinnati. Its mission is to build and increase the sustainable capacity of fire departments across Africa.
“I really had no desire to visit Africa last year, but my wife convinced me,” said Dave. “Mary Kamau (director of MoHI) asked me to help with fire safety in the schools while I was there.”
Dave soon realized that there were serious issues with fire safety in Nairobi.
“There are about 150 firefighters protecting a population of five million folks,” he said. “Compare that to Cincinnati, where we have 850 firefighters for 350,000 people!”
When Dave asked the chief of the Nairobi Fire Service during that first visit what he could do for them, he was surprised by his response.
“He didn’t ask for money or materials, he asked for more training,” said Dave. “He said he knew they’d never be able to afford the kind of equipment that we have over here, but with training, they could do their best with what they had. That attitude really changed my heart, when I saw they had the right motivation.”
Dave returned to Cincinnati and spent a year forming the organization, raising funding and collecting the materials to ship to Nairobi. LifeSpring Church contributed funds to pay for shipping the container and provided temporary office space and a place to load the container. FAME provided the medical equipment. Dave headed back to Nairobi in early November.
“We were nervous about the container arriving on time, but the Kamaus got it fast-tracked through customs,” he said. “We had a great ceremony with the kids, singing and dancing and putting on the gear. And we were thrilled when Gov. Kidero arrived – it was his first-ever visit to the slums!”
Africa Fire Mission plans to continue its relationship with MoHI and the Nairobi Fire Service and also expand into Turkana and Tanzania, the other areas where MoHI is planning schools.
“Our first goal is to train the fire department, but we also want to develop our relationship with the governor,” said Dave. “All of this is being done with the goal of connecting MoHI to the government so they will improve services in the slums.”