Featured News

Iraqi firefighters fitted with new suits

3 Jul 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Iraqi firefighters are sporting new uniforms, thanks to a little help from Marines.

Civil affairs Marines from Regimental Combat Team 1 refit the Nasser Wa Al Salaam Fire Department with much needed equipment recently.  The team delivered 20 sets of equipment - including fire resistant helmets, jackets, trousers and boots. 

The gear, slightly used, but in good condition was donated by a fire department in the United States.

The donation of the gear capped off a renovation to the city's fire department building.

"We have approved a contract to rebuild the entire station, which will give them a place to sleep and also refurbish their office spaces," said Maj. Lawrence J. Kaifesh, the civil affairs team leader for 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

Kaifesh explained the fire station was ignored for years.  The facility had fallen into disrepair.  Marines first took notice and stepped in to assist soon after fighting simmered down early May in Fallujah.

"We were on a routine inspection of key facilities, and we noticed that the station was makeshift - built out of a school classroom," explained Kaifesh, a 36-year-old from Chicago. "They were ill equipped with only semi-flame retardant jackets, so the firefighters were always in danger every time they fought fires.  They never had the right firefighting equipment."

Kaifesh said that because of the commitment to restoring city infrastructures in Nasser Wa Al Salaam, Al Kharma and other rural towns, the fire station has grown a new pride for their fire department.

"The fire department project is one our best because as soon as we gave them money, they immediately started working on it," Kaifesh said. "You can't even recognize the old building because they have done a terrific job - the firefighters could not be happier."