Fire services personnel are due to travel to West Africa to deliver two fire engines, donated by Kildare County Council, to the remote province of Zinder, as part of Plan International Ireland’s ‘Fire Engine to Niger’ project.

Members of the service will make the long journey by sea, followed by 1,000km by road, to deliver the equipment which will help thousands of people access water and emergency services in one of the world’s most impoverished nations.

This will be the sixth time in which Plan International Ireland has facilitated the transport of fire and emergency vehicles to the Zinder province Niger, one of the world’s driest regions which is regularly afflicted by water shortages and drought. The vehicles will provide an emergency response to a region grossly short of disaster response services.

“In times of drought, fire engines help to bring water to the most remote communities. We are certain that the fire engines and emergency vehicle will be of great benefit to children and communities in Niger,” noted David Dalton, CEO of Plan International Ireland.

“Thanks to Irish firefighters, the local authorities who donated the vehicles and the support of all those who’ve donated to help the fire personnel make the journey, thousands of people will have access to lifesaving equipment for the communities it supports,” he added.

Before the project began, there was just one fire engine to service the region with a population of 2.4 million.

The vehicles will be shipped from Cork to the coastal town of Cotonou in the neighbouring country of Benin. The Irish team will then take the vehicles on the 1,000 km cross-country trek to Niger. When they arrive they will set up a training camp to teach local firefighters how to effectively use the equipment.