Fishers Fire Department to send surplus equipment to Ukraine


Fishers Fire Department has purchased new equipment to meet updated national standards. Following a vote Dec. 12 by the Fishers Board of Public Works, some of its older, but still usefu,l equipment will be given to the Fishers Police Department and the rest will be donated to firefighters in Ukraine.

FFD Capt. Scott Zelhart told the board that a dozen self-contained breathing apparatus air packs will go to local police, primarily for use in drug cases.

“So, they can make entry into drug labs and — God forbid, they come across fentanyl — they would be safe,” he said, noting that it would cost about $190,000 for the city to purchase similar equipment new for police use.

The remainder of the surplus equipment will be donated to Ambulances for Ukraine, a U.S. organization that provides equipment for Ukrainian first responders.

“It’s managed through the Ukrainian Society of Indianapolis in conjunction with the society in Chicago,” Zelhart said. “Once we say go, they will take care of all the logistics.”

In a later telephone interview, firefighter/medic William Ortiz, who helps maintain SCBA equipment, said that equipment allows firefighters to breathe clean air in smoky or otherwise dangerous environments.

“Our department was able to purchase new equipment and we didn’t really have any use for our old system anymore,” he said. “Other countries, they’re able to use equipment that differs from what we use here. And so that’s one of the reasons that we were able to partner with another organization to donate our current air packs to Ukraine for the firefighters there.”

Ortiz said the donations extend the useful life of equipment that otherwise would sit on a shelf or end up in a landfill.

“We’re able to give our equipment kind of a second life in a sense so that it can continue to help other people,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal is always going to be life safety, life preservation. And we found a way and a means for us to continue to do that through providing this equipment to Ukraine. We’re pretty happy to be able to be a part of that.”

The donated equipment includes air packs and refillable cylinders of breathable air. The equipment bound for Ukraine likely will reach firefighters there by February 2024.