Phnom Penh Firefighters To Receive US Gear

About $1 million worth of firefighting equipment donated to the Phnom Penh municipal fire department by US firefighters will be handed over at a ceremony at the Interior Ministry today, donors and officials said.

The equipment includes a $700,000 fire engine, communication systems, breathing apparatuses and emergency medical gear, said US Fire Chief Bill Whitney, who led the team of nine US firefighting instructors who have been training local counterparts in the use of the equipment since Jan 17.

Funds for the donation were raised by the US-based nonprofit Outreach Emergency Services Program, founded by Khmer-American Sos Ya Ouch. Of the 14 US firefighters involved in the organization, three are Khmer-American.

Sos Ya Ouch said Wednesday that the equipment was sufficient to extinguish a fire in a nine- or 10-story building and to provide emergency medical care equivalent to that of six ambulances.

“On our second night here there was a fire alert down the street. We got to watch how the Cambodian firefighters worked but did not interfere,” said Wash­ington state firefighter John Wil­son Auburn.

“Afterwards we instructed them in tactical firefighting and have made it easier for them to combat fires in the future,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Khim So­vannavuth, chief of education and program officer at the Royal Po­lice School’s Initial Training Cen­ter, said 64 trainees from 25 mu­ni­cipal fire stations, 24 members of the Emergency Medical Service and four members of National Assem­bly President Prince Norodom Rana­riddh’s bodyguards received train­ing under the OESP initiative.

It was the third time local firefighters had been instructed by the US trainers, he said.


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