Clifton firefighters launch statewide gear collection for counterparts in Ukraine

Firefighters Ukraine

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Firefighters in Clifton, North Jersey have started a statewide gear collection drive to help their counterparts in Ukraine. 

Pat Trentacost, fire chief, Passaic said: “What I’m seeing is nothing less than miraculous as they’re working to remove victims with limited resources, regardless of the potential of being killed by Russian attack.”

Clifton’s fire chief Frank Prezioso reached out to enlist his help to collect surplus fire equipment for Ukraine’s fire service. Trentacost had seen photos of firetrucks and apparatus buried in rubble after Russian attacks.

Prezioso said the idea came from third-year Clifton firefighter Oleg Skachko, who emigrated from Ukraine when he was 14.

Skachko’s first thought was to gather personal protection equipment, also known as turnout gear, for Ukraine’s firefighters. He had been contacted by friends in Ukraine who knew he was a firefighter, and their requests resonated, first with him and later with his peers. 

In Ukraine, Skachko lived next to a fire station and when he moved to the US in 2022, he lived just down street from a Paterson fire station. He wanted to be a firefighter for as long as he could remember, he told

Clifton is taking the lead in organising the effort to collect equipment and has reached out to fire departments across the region. The aim is to get departments from around New Jersey to contribute equipment to help their firefighters in Ukraine. 

The worry is that as the war continues and resources are destroyed, firefighters would be forced to work in their street clothes.  

Passaic discovered that neck collars, backboards, bandages and other supplies would soon be in high demand. In terms of shipping, the heavy, bulky equipment is being shipped to nearby areas which will then be transported to Ukraine. This is because several airports in Ukraine were targeted by Russians forces early on in the invasion.  

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