Firefighters' version of 'Long Way Down': A long and arduous trek across Africa maybe the subject of a BBC documentary, but for Avon Fire Services in Partnership it is a regular undertaking for UK firefighters. Avon's Stephanie Mounsey reports on the long journey from Bristol to the Gambia.(Risk Management)


WATCH MANAGER ADRIAN MANTLE and Firefighter Pete Marsh from Avon Fire and Rescue Service spent the first three weeks of 2008 living in a cramped ambulance, driving all day and sometimes at night, and wondering what was around the next corner-and all in the name of charity.

Adrian, who is based at Bedminster Fire Station and Pete, from Bath Fire Station, decided to embark on the trip when two ambulances were donated to The Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP) charity from Wessex Ambulance Service.

The charity was set up 16 years ago to provide fire cover for people living in The Gambia. All Avon Fire and Rescue Service's equipment, which is no longer needed is given to the charity, along with numerous donations from members of the public, including sewing machines, books, stationery and medical equipment.

Items are shipped to The Gambia on a regular basis and Avon Fire and Rescue Service regularly sends its staff over to provide training for the firefighters thereto ensure they can use the equipment.

Rather than just shipping the ambulances to The Gambia for the Gambia Fire and Ambulance Service to use, it was decided that driving one of the vehicles from Bristol to the African country would be more of a challenge and would help raise money for the charity along the way. …

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