COLCHESTER, Vt. – Delegates from Senegal's National Fire Brigade, Brigade Nationale des Sapeurs-Pompiers, visited Vermont July 11-21 as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program.
"The overall objective of the visit was for Brig. Gen. (Mor) Seck and his subordinates to gain a good understanding of emergency preparedness and response across all state agencies, so we set up visits with Urban Search and Rescue, Vermont Emergency Management and the Vermont Fire Academy," said Col. Randall Gates, Vermont National Guard's director of military support.
The Vermont National Guard, firefighting departments and rescue organizations demonstrated their capabilities and equipment and conducted firefighting briefings for the brigade.
Gates said a July 15 visit to the Vermont Fire Academy in Pittsford was the highlight of the visit.
"The academy pulled out all the stops for us," he said. "We were given live flame demonstrations, shown how to put out dumpster and car fires. They showed us the burn house and laid out all their equipment for the delegation to examine."
Gates said the Senegal fire brigade wants more specialization.
"They want to get into search and rescue, explosive ordnance disposal and hazmat," he explained, adding that they can learn many of the new capabilities with the help of Vermont state agencies and the VTNG.
The state of Vermont's Urban Search and Rescue Team demonstrated rescue techniques with trained dogs, drones and sonic detection equipment at Camp Johnson, Vermont National Guard Joint Force Headquarters.
Seck, the delegation's senior member and commander of the Senegal National Fire Brigade, found a static display of the team's water-borne assets of particular interest. He said he would like to build up his organization's sea rescue capabilities. Col. Ibrahima Diatta and Adjuvant Abdou Karime Ndiaye accompanied Seck.
Members of the Vermont National Guard's 15th Civil Support Team provided a chemical, biological incident response exercise. In protective suits, Guardsmen demonstrated methods for searching for weapons of mass destruction.
"There are a number of branch-outs currently under Brig. Gen. Seck's responsibility and in every one of those areas that he wants to gain more knowledge," Gates said. "That specialization resides in Vermont. I think we are going to be scheduling a lot of visits going forward as Brig. Gen. Seck gave out a lot of invitations. It starts informally."
The VTNG State Partnership Program with Senegal began in 2008.