Donations – An Essential Guide, Part 3

No problem can cause unintended strain
Donations of Emergency Services gear to the Global South come from every kind of sources and comprise a variety of manufacturers of equipment. Donating entities acquire whatever they’ll and bundle goods into shipments that ideally fit the needs of the recipient. But the considerably haphazard donations course of can end up creating added stress on the Global South recipient departments. After all, it is hard sufficient maintaining a standardized stock of equipment. But imagine now having a combination of equipment, every with slightly totally different characteristics and attributes – gear, instruments and automobiles with totally different manuals when you have them, completely different spare elements if you need them, specialist technical support if somehow you could get entry to it domestically, and often directions that are not within the local language of recipient firefighters.
Moreover, I have seen donated gear arrive in recipient countries that’s clearly marked as out of service (OOS), unserviceable (U/S), unrepairable, failed and even ‘unsafe–do not use’. Also widespread is damaged or incomplete equipment; PPE that’s torn, nonetheless dirty with blood, or with out thermal liners; cracked helmets with no face shields or inner shell; SCBA masks with no harnesses or exhalation valves; seized pumps; and, the commonest of all, punctured hearth hose.
Donations usually come with written disclaimers from some Global North organizations, absolving them from any warranty, assure and responsibility for accident, harm or mechanical failure after supply. But legal legal responsibility is hardly the most important concern of a recipient division trying to defend its personnel. Clear fit-for-duty situations ought to all the time be met by a donation to ensure it serves its intended objective.
Lastly, many donors count on the host country or recipient division to cowl some prices – transport, import duties and flights for volunteers offering coaching and attending the handover. And whereas there are good arguments for cost-sharing (including that it encourages accountability on the part of the recipient), these prices can be substantial for recipients who in plenty of instances can’t afford basic, new property. These costs put significant strain on the recipient departments and may end up in donations being stuck in warehouses for months or years whereas recipients wait for someone to pay taxes and charges to get the gear ‘released’ to be used.
Are we encouraging risk?
I even have seen many kinds of gear that require common, specialist care and statutory control that have arrived in the arms of abroad personnel having failed or exceeded the permissible standards expected in the nation of origin. Used ladders, hoses, pumps, chemical safety fits, medical supplies, radiation and gas-monitoring devices, lines, lifejackets, vertical rescue gear, and so forth. all cascade their method right down to countries the place they are used and trusted by these with less regulatory protection. Firefighters within the Global South are not any much less brave than their counterparts in richer countries. The gear they use must nonetheless be safe.
It considerations me – and I even have seen this within the field – that some sorts of sophisticated donated gear often encourage firefighters to sort out emergencies that they haven’t any training or capacity to deal with. In many instances, they expose themselves to far greater danger, as they have neither the expertise nor the coaching opportunities that Global North responders have.
Responders in emerging markets don’t have the luxury of calling the native power or fuel firm to isolate the availability to a property before they enter. They may face saved domestic fuel bottles, unauthorized electrical energy connections, unlawful constructing requirements, and different hazards that make their operations especially precarious. But armed with their newly donated equipment, they generally assume that they are better protected to enter those risks than earlier than, after they had nothing.
Ask yourself should you would actually be okay with utilizing donated tools that has failed certification or passed its usable date in your individual every day emergencies, not to mention underneath these circumstances?
Some donor companies that send their personnel to provide short-term, basic coaching problem their own ‘certificates of attendance and/or competence’. But attendance just isn’t the identical as mastery. A firefighter receiving a donation is unlikely to ask if the international skilled is actually certified to show them a few particular piece of kit. Unless certifications are endorsed or recognized by a real standards company within the host country and the instructors have present qualifications and authorized authority to problem them exterior their own nation, the apply is questionable.
In many ways, skilled steering is much more necessary than the donated equipment itself. If we wish to prevent donation-driven risk taking by Global South first responders, we have to not only donate equipment that is fit for responsibility but additionally help our donations with certified individuals on the ground, working hand in hand with the native personnel for an acceptable time period to appropriately guide and certify customers in operations and maintenance.
Donations should drive finances
Finally, donations don’t routinely remedy the gear and training void in rising markets, and in some cases, they will truly exacerbate the issue. Global South firefighters asking for overseas aid are doing so as a end result of their native authorities either lack the mandatory funds or don’t see their wants as a precedence. But the reality is that in plenty of nations’ governments, officers often have little understanding of the business. They assume that donated used gadgets are a helpful solution to a finances shortfall. A short-term repair perhaps. But in the lengthy term, the objective have to be to motivate governments to address the actual short- and long-term wants of their Emergency Services personnel and actually spend cash on the event of quality Emergency Services for his or her nations. A fast fix could take the strain off quickly, but the important discussion about long-term financing between departments and their governments needs to be occurring sooner, not later.
In the tip, there is no shortcutting quality. Donations have to be quality gear, certified for use and ideally, where attainable, the identical or related brands as these being used presently by recipients. Equipment needs to come back with actual training from practitioners with present experience on the gear being obtained. Recipients must be skilled so the new tools could make them safer, not create additional danger. And donations should not finish a conversation about finances – they want to be a part of a conversation about greater standards and higher service that depends on a selection of new, recycled and donated tools that really serves the ever-expanding needs of the global Emergency Services community.
Please hold an eye fixed out for the fourth and ultimate instalment of this article subsequent month, the place I will illustrate factors to contemplate when making a donation, in addition to suggestions to ensure successful donations you can feel happy with.
Chris Gannon
Chris Gannon has spent 29 years within the business as a nationwide Fire Chief, government advisor, CEO of Gannon Emergency Solutions, and has constructed a popularity as a pioneer in reviewing and bettering Emergency Services around the world. For extra data, please visit or
GESA (Global Emergency Services Action)
GESA is a world non-profit founded in 2020 by leader corporations in the Emergency Services sector. GESA is a coalition of corporations, consultants and practitioners working collectively to vary the method forward for the global Emergency Services marketplace. We are currently developing our flagship platform – the GESA Equipment Exchange – a web-based device that will connect Global South departments with manufacturers, consultants, trainers and suppliers to tie donations to a sustainable, longer-term pipeline of sales and repair. For more info, membership inquiries and extra, please contact

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