When Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen takes his mission trips to Honduras, he is serving in another capacity as well.
In many ways, Allen is also a goodwill ambassador from Portsmouth. This year, the city manager made the trek to Saba, Honduras to deliver a gift from another friend from Portsmouth – Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison.
In July 2016, Raison and Allen went to the north coast of Honduras, Central America on a mission trip. The duo visited San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and Saba. Mission work was conducted in La Ceiba and in Saba. While in Saba, Raison and Allen had a chance to visit a fire station in the community of Saba, a community of approximately 30,000.
“An immediate friendship was developed and the Bomberos (firefighters in spanish) proudly showed us their station and equipment,” Allen said. “They presented Fire Chief Raison with one of their T-shirts and an official Saba Fire Department hat. Raison expressed to Allen that he could not believe the condition of the equipment that they were using. The equipment was nearly all donated equipment from the United States and was in very poor condition.
“The government of Honduras has limited funds for the purchase of rescue equipment thus, they rely on receiving discarded and donated equipment from the United States,” Allen said.
In April 2017, Allen went on a trip to Saba in preparation for the July 2017 mission trip to that city. The Portsmouth Fire Department presented rescue rope that was taken out of service because the age and use of the rope had caused it to no longer meet minimum standards here in the United States. The rope would have had to be thrown away and could not be donated here in the United States to another department because of the liability, since it no longer met U.S. standards. There are no standards in Honduras.
“The rope, even though it was worn and old was in better condition than the rope the Saba Fire Department had shown us in 2016,” Allen said. “Instead of just disposing of the rope as garbage, the City of Portsmouth was able to be ambassadors to Central America and presented this old equipment as a gift. As city manager for the City of Portsmouth this gesture of kindness made me very proud of this community. Thank you Portsmouth Fire Department.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.