National Fire Protection Agency Donates Fire Equipment


Protective fire gear is required to be retired from use by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) after 10 years of the manufacturing date. The Southern Door Fire Department has been stockpiling their garments while they determined what to do with them.

“We were just collecting the gear, we needed to get rid of it,” said Captain and Safety Officer Tim Rollin. “But we wanted to make sure it was not wasted.”

Retired fire chief Doug Weimer took on the task of finding an alternative use for the garments rather than just disposing them. Weimer came up with a few ideas for how to recycle the garments, and the department landed on the International Fire Relief Mission (IFRM.)

The IFRM is a nonprofit group that organizes aid to fire departments and EMS groups in developing countries or places hit with disaster by recycling serviceable fire fighting and EMS equipment.

Even though the garments are too old by American standards, the equipment goes to places that have no gear at all. When IFRM delivers clothing, they send a team to demonstrate and provide information on how to effectively use the gear.

IFRM was founded in 2007 by retired firefighters and medics. All donated gear is laundered and repaired by a certified firefighting gear manufacturer before it is shipped to places in need. According to the IFRM website, it costs about $25,000 for each team delivery overseas.

Shane Westfall, IFRM’s Wisconsin coordinator, said that many Wisconsin fire departments are involved, and he has had about 40 donate to the cause over the last seven years. Westfall encourages local fire departments to pool their donated gear if possible.

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