Annual Report 2007/2008

Annual Report


This last twelve months has been the most difficult since the project’s inception.

The profile of the trust has risen significantly which has attracted a dramatic increase in practical donations of goods, in particular educational and medical supplies. However the fund – raising has struggled to keep pace with the volume of goods to be shipped.

We have ceased accepting IT unless the items have been cleaned and serviced by Avon Youth Association.

We continue to receive sewing machines, with the manual ones now being sent to the provinces for the promotion of further women’s centres.

We have sent over 10 tonnes of adult library books but the national library has asked to put this on hold due to the overwhelming amount which they cannot cope with. The Gambia has asked that we continue to send children’s books for use in schools.

Our two key fund raising initiatives had cost implications for the trust and individuals. But these initiatives failed to meet any targets set.

At the same time, only limited funds have been forthcoming from The Gambia despite repeated promises.

Three new rescue boat stations have been commissioned, two sea rescue and one river rescue in the provinces. Local communities have resourced these stations.

Aztec and Paris Rotary Clubs funded the 10 boats and kit and representatives have visited to see first hand the benefit and value of their fantastic initiative – worth in excess of £25000. Training from AF&RS personnel on water rescue was undertaken late last year. (A separate training report is attached)

The DLCG and Operation Florian have donated Green Goddess’s together with a large volume of spares. Many of these appliances were used in The Gambia’s disastrous flooding this year. Many lives were lost and large areas within the urban conurbations were destroyed. The four wheeled capability proved invaluable in the provision of water for drinking and cooking.

Sincere thanks and appreciation go to DLCG, Operation Florian and Aztec and Paris Rotary Clubs, from Trustees and the people of The Gambia.

I would wish to record my sincere thanks and appreciation to the supporters of the Trust , and to Kevin Pearson CFO, trustees and members of Avon Fire Authority, who continue to make our work possible.
Thanks also go to our band of volunteers who readily give of their time.
Finally my appreciation goes to my wife Claire and my children who support the trust unconditionally and Sandra Connolly, for her patience and understanding.

Dave Hutchings

The Gambia

The Gambia remains locked in the poverty trap. This years flooding during the rains destroyed a large area of its fragile infrastructure.

The exchange rate is around 39 Dalasis to the £ which make economic life fragile and limits investment.

Tourism remains one of the few areas for development and hopes are high for a successful year.

The Gambia Fire Service remains on a hand to mouth basis, with its only development funded by its own communities and charitable donations.

Our volunteer trainers continue to fund their own visits. We have a healthy number of volunteers waiting the opportunity to go, albeit year on year the costs rise.

Despite seemingly insurmountable difficulties the Gambia Fire Service continues to provide a community service. Their communities appear so grateful for any help and support that they receive.

It is difficult for us here in the UK to comprehend the acceptability of such differing standards where we expect an immediate response with all the support within minutes. In The Gambia they are grateful for any assistance no matter how limited.

Despite our involvement over almost 17 years it is impossible to imagine the day to day problems which they encounter over so many of the basics of life e.g. fuel and fresh water.

Our support with education and health has made significant impact on these particular areas. The improvement in so many schools, including the only special needs school, and the establishment of the women’s groups all shows the impact GAFSIP has had.

School exchange programmes have been initiated. Although these are not directly related to our work they have developed through our contact with Gambian Schools.

The Gambia Fire Service played a significant role in attempting to find a bone marrow donor for Yvette Gate of Bristol. Tragically even working through her extended family they were unsuccessful.

Sadly, in this last year, we advise that a fire-fighter drowned whilst attempting to escape the poverty trap of The Gambia in dug – out canoe heading for Europe. A treacherous and horrific journey which tragically year on year claims an unknown number of lives. This 34 year old fire-fighter leaves behind a widow and 2 children who are ultimately the losers. This incident occurred during the training visit. Our Gambian colleagues and trainers assisted in the recovery of his and 9 other bodies. This sad occurrence puts a vivid perspective on the poverty trap which exists in The Gambia and the lengths to which young men will go to escape to Europe.

Our Latest Communication from The Gambia 18.05.08.

Hi Claire and David

Have you tried calling recently ?. Our phones have been cut off as the government owes the phone company. It is a struggle to run the service from day to day. The only thing government has done for us since 2006 is to pay our wages. David you will recall that you helped us get heavy duty batteries that have seen us through. The shipments are our lifeline in terms of stationeries, drugs and goods for our clinics and books and furniture for pour schools, without GAFSIP we would have nothing.
I am barely keeping my head above water, its hard and tireing.

Regards to all



A total of 5 X40’ containers since March 2007

This represents in excess of 100 tonnes of educational and medical goods.
The collection, sorting and packing of these goods were a considerable challenge.

15 Green Goddess Fire Appliances

Two ambulances and a mini bus. These were driven down to The Gambia
over this new year as a fund raising initiative.

We are again indebted to schools in the South Gloucestershire area, Southmead and Frenchay Hospitals, libraries across our area plus many private donations.

It is humbling when collecting and sorting these goods as many are so thoughtful and caring for others in need.

Again this year we received many challenges in sourcing spare parts for vehicles which have been out of production, some for 10 plus years. However we succeeded.

Visit to Avon Fire and Rescue HQ By The Gambian High Commissioner Her Excellency Mrs Elizabeth Harding

Terry Walker Chair of Avon Fire Authority was presented with a special wood carving called UNITY to celebrate this unique partnership. Mrs Harding said words could not describe the thoughts of her people in recognising the esteem in which Avon Fire Authority were held in The Gambia.
 Mr and Mrs Hart were also awarded this special token of The Gambia’s appreciation for their tremendous support to GAFSIP’s work.
She recognised the magnificent support of so many to assure the work of the charity.
Roger Bakurin Chief Fire Officer of The Gambia Fire Service was also present and thanked all who made GAFSIP possible.

Chris and Mary Millard presented with The Glyn Duck Award

Whilst here in the UK Roger was able to present The Glyn Duck Memorial award to Chris and Mary Millard who have worked so hard for over 15 years for The Gambia. Roger was also delighted to meet Glyn’s family, he commented on his work as a trustee and tremendous supporter of the work of the trust.

Serco Pulse Award

Serco have recognised the work of GAFSIP in making an exceptional impact and commitment to save and enhance lives for the people of The Gambia. David Hutchings went to Hampton Court Palace to receive the award on behalf of The Trust and volunteers from Serco at Filton who have supported the project since its inception



The training visit took place last November and was led by training coordinator Chris Millard. Mary Millard also visited. Report below.



This year’s visit was again conducted under the GAFSIP charity. All personnel making the visits were entirely self funded. Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AFRS) kindly provided support by paying meal allowances and releasing staff to undertake the training. Serco and Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (D&SFRS) also provided support for there staff. 2 trainers also took their partners again fully self funded but who readily supported the programmes.

The programmes of the 2007 training visits were designed to address some of the recommendations made in the 2006 training report.  It was hoped that the visit would incorporate mechanics training but this was not possible as there were no suitable staff available.  Additionally AFRS had supplied redundant Breathing Apparatus equipment to Gambia Fire & Ambulance Service (GFAS) which was shipped in late summer 2007. This meant that the training on the breathing apparatus could not be planned until after the equipment had arrived, hence this year’s programme resulted in a considerable gap between visits.

The training was divided into 2 visits.  The first in February covered Road Traffic Collision skills and management training and Airport Crash & Rescue Training and was conducted by 2 Trainers from Avon FRS & 2 from Serco.  The second in November covered Breathing Apparatus equipment procedures and Boat handling skills Training. This visit was conducted by 6 AFRS staff plus a member of D&SFRS. Additionally Dave Price was accompanied by his partner, Sue Langdon & Chris Millard by Mary Millard. The team was joined by Rory O’Connor & Philip King of the Aztec Rotary Club, Bristol whose organisation has donated rescue boats & engines to the GFAS.  Their role was to observe how the boats were being used and to report back to their International President on their findings.

The Teams consisted of:

Road Traffic Collision skills and Airport Crash & Rescue Training Teams Breathing Apparatus and Boat Training Teams
Pascal Van Ousten (AFRS)
Gary Harris (AFRS)Scott Bates  (Serco)
Jamie Dewey (Serco)
Chris Millard (coordinator AFRS)
Dave Price (AFRS)
Chris Geeke (AFRS)
Darren Thomas (AFRS)
Janette Morris (AFRS)
Steve Putnam (AFRS)
Greg Doutre (D&SFRS)

Airfield Crash & Rescue Training

GAFSIP trainers were again supported by fire fighting colleagues from Serco. The Team of Jamie Dewey and Scott Bates are based at Filton. Jamie acted as the lead trainer as he who has been to Gambia, following on from previous years where the Airport has benefitted from one firefighter returning again each year to ensure continuity of training.

The fire fighters were based at Banjul Airport and spent their time in The Gambia teaching the tactics and techniques necessary to deal with an aircraft emergency.  The Trainers soon found themselves having to deal with the everyday problems of life in the Gambia learning to overcome issues such as a lack of water supplies, transport problems and basic equipment shortage.

On arrival at the fire station they found that only one out of the three airfield appliances was in working order. The engine had been removed from the 6 x 6 appliance which was in the process of being worked on by the mechanic, the other appliance drive shaft had broken. With lack of resources both of these problems mean that it could be months before either is fixed.

A domestic firefighting appliance had to be used from the training school in Bakau so that the training could continue the next day.  Hydraulic cutting equipment that has been supplied by Avon Fire & Rescue Service is in use on the airfield vehicles. This means that the airfield crew have now got vital tools and cutting equipment to aid them in the rescue of trapped passengers. With the training we provided they are now able to handle the equipment safely.

Jamie & Scott experienced some real fire fighting for themselves while in The Gambia when a large bush fire started and was threatening the safety of the airport. The Serco staff along with the Gambian fire fighters and the aid of a crew with an appliance from neighbouring station managed to extinguish the fire a few feet from the edge of the local mosque, as well as the airport car park and outer terminal buildings. With the tourist trade being vital to the Gambian economy any closure of the airport can have dire consequences for the country. This was a salutary reminder of the dangers associated with fire fighting especially in such arduous conditions.  Bush fires are common in Gambia and have already claimed the lives of Gambian fire fighters, one tragically died fire fighting prior to our visit.

The Gambian Fire Service is run differently to our own airport fire services. At the time of the visit fire fighters are rotated between roles approximately ever two years covering domestic, boat rescue as well as aircraft fire fighting.
The programme used a variety of training delivery methods including table top exercises to demonstrate appliance positioning at incidents. This was also used as a revision from previous years training input. It was discovered that there were a small number of personnel from last year but the majority were new faces. With appliance availability problems the Trainers we came up with using the broken down mini bus they had on the station, using the interior to simulate an aircraft interior, for a search and rescue blanking out the B.A masks.  This went really well and pointed out a way to carry out training without having to leave station or use fuel.

Drills on engine & undercarriage fires took most of a full day as new techniques had to be explained to the new station personnel. This went well and by the end of the day everyone had a good understanding of what they had to do at this type of aircraft incident. This lead into door procedures, making an entry then carrying out search & rescue inside an aircraft.

It was very rewarding to see the progress made during the training programme.  At the end of the training the fire fighters were presented with a certificate to show they had successfully completed the training. The training over the two weeks was much appreciated by the fire fighters of the Gambia, whose appetite for knowledge was vast.  Scott and Jamie said that they ‘feel very privileged to have been given the chance to work with the Gambians, they are great people, always smiling, polite and willing to do anything you need of them and are a real pleasure to teach.’

Road Traffic Collision Training (RTC)

The first part of this years programme followed on from the AU summit training in the previous year where basic RTC training has been given to crews from those stations that would respond to road incidents during the Summit. It was recognised during this training that there was a greater training need across the all stations in GFAS. It must be remembered that the culture in Gambia means that the public expectation is different than that in the UK. This is reflected in the recommendations of the 2006 Training report specifically that:

  • The RTC skills taught on the course should be included in the existing station training programmes.
  • Drills not requiring the use of fuel should be regularly scheduled in station routines.

The Training Team’s aim was to instruct a group of about 20 GFAS fire fighters from all stations in a comprehensive range of RTC techniques. The objective of the training being that at the end of the course they would have reached a satisfactory standard and could therefore go back to their own stations and watches and cascade on the training onto their colleagues.
There are no railways in the Gambia so all goods are transported by road, mainly to and from the port in Banjul.  Due to the condition of some of the vehicles the GFAS has to deal with a significant number of RTCs involving LGVs. The course input was divided into tasks, task monument and operations techniques that would enhance the GFAS response to RTCs. the following procedures and techniques were covered in the syllabus:

  • Vehicle construction
  • R.T.C. technology
  • Team approach
  • Glass management
  • Stabilization
  • Mechanics of injury
  • Casualty care
  • Casualty removal techniques


  • RTC techniques
  • Approach and arrival
  • Positioning of appliances
  • Vehicle and extrication hazards
  • Getting to work and simultaneous activity
  • R.T.C. involving Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) and associated hazards
  • Hybrid vehicles

AFRS has now sent several rescue tenders and their equipment to the GFSAS. This has been added to by the donation to GAFSIP of RTC equipment from other FRSs in the UK.  The amount of equipment and range now carried on the rescue tenders in the Gambia is commensurate with that carried on UK appliances.  This brings many problems of maintaining such technically advanced equipment. The course therefore covered routine maintenance and checking of equipment to help in extending the working life of the equipment. 
Areas covered by this part of the syllabus included: 

  • Daily/weekly checks
  • On board generator/portable generator
  • Winching using on board and tirfor winches
  • Working with Steel ropes
  • roving and using pulleys and shackles
  • Ground anchor systems
  • Angle grinder
  • HURST hydraulic rescue equipment
  • lighting (onboard and portable)
  • Cengar saw
  • All other equipment on rescue tenders

The course was assessable and students had to make a presentation to their trainers and the end of the course to achieve a pass grade.  Students were expected to demonstrate that they had the ability to instruct station level personnel by individually making a presentation on; a piece of equipment the PPE, getting it to work, and how to employ safe system of work. Additionally students were assessed on their understanding of the techniques used at R.T.C

During the course and unannounced visit was made Secretary of State for the Interior, CFO Roger Bakurin and other dignitaries.   The main purpose of their visit was to observe the recruit training course that was taking place at the same time as the RTC training.  The course gave a excellent account of themselves by talking to the Minister and other visitors about: the rescue tender vehicle and its equipment, giving a demonstration on casualty care and removal from a car, and the use of the hydraulic rescue equipment.  The Minister informed the trainers that he was very impressed. Gary Harris and Pascal Van Ousten both commented that it was very rewarding to see the standard the students had reached particularly as they were not previously prepared for the visit. Overall the training went very well despite the normal problems encountered on a daily basis in the Gambia.  Power cuts and people getting called away from the course are part of everyday life but the main problem was the lack of a vehicle to train on or cut up.  Trainers had to demonstrate techniques using only 12 inch lengths of scaffold tube.  The intermittent availability of the angle grinder from the RT added to the difficulties experienced during the course. However despite this the course made excellent progress and this was due in no small part to the commitment shown by the students.

The trainers had taken a laptop and projector that were loaded with prepared presentations as part of the pre-visit preparations. This allowed the trainers not only make presentations during the course but also to leave sufficient powerpoint presentations on CD for a copy for each station and a supply for the training department. This will enhance the station based training as each station is now equipped with a computer.

Garry Harris reported that overall the enthusiasm shown by the students was superb. This linked to the commitment shown resulted in every student achieving a pass in the end of course assessment, which reflects great credit on the GFAS.


Boat & BA Training visit

Prior to the November visit Chris Millard had been liaising with ADO Amat Janha of the GFAS who was organising the National Fire Service day in The Gambia which were held in Basse, in the Upper River Division. On arrival we were informed that the entire party would be attending the celebrations.  The trip would involve 2 days of travelling and day attending the celebrations. This meant that the training programmes would start on the following Monday. The opportunity to attend such a prestigious event was readily accepted by all the trainers and laid an excellent foundation at the start of the visit for everyone to get to know each other much better. Additionally the invitation was extended to Rory O’Connor & Philip King.

The first full day was used to show the trainers, who had not been to Gambia before, some of the training locations, places of interest and to meet dignitaries.  A highlight of the day was a meeting with the Secretary of State Minister for the Interior Mr Ousman Sonko. The Minister spoke of the entire countries appreciation for the work being done by GAFSIP. He informed us that The Gambian Government and his Department in particular, as he was responsible for the GFAS, were fully committed to ensuring the sustainability of GAFSIP.

Rory O’Connor & Phil King were able to further brief the Minister that they were fact finding on what had been done and how they could continue to provide support to ensure that the boats remain available for the long term future. The Minister sent greetings to Dave & Claire Hutchings, wished everyone a successful visit, and said that we would see him at the Fire Service day in Basse.

The programme then took in a visit to the Sea Bay station at Bakau, where the duty crew were demonstrated their boat launching skills. This gave Chris Geeke and Steve Putnam the opportunity to see where they needed to set the boat training programme during the visit. First impressions were that the skills shown by the coxswains to launch the boats were satisfactory the programme would need to enhance this along with general boat handling, engine maintenance and crew safety. This was followed by a visit to the sea rescue station at Tenjing, which was officially opened during our visit.  The Station is in the heart of a fishing community that lives and works next to the sea in often difficult conditions. From the nature of the work, and the number of rescues already recorded it was evident that the station would make a significant contribution to the safety of the community. Everyone of the team noted how it was a truly community facility that was integrated into the everyday lives of the local population.

The day concluded with a visit to the Training School at Bakau where the Trainers who would be conducting breathing apparatus training saw the facilities and equipment they would be using. The evening was then used to discuss the amendments to programmes and schedules due to the reduced time and available resources.

National Fire Service Day at Basse

The National Fire Service Day was held on 16th November 2007.  This was changed from the originally planned date to accommodate the GAFSIP visit.  Whilst there have been representatives from GAFSIP at previously this year’s event was the first to coincide with a GAFSIP training visit. This was a first in the 15 years of the partnership and was a significant and special occasion for everyone.  The Team would therefore make the trip up country to Basse to join the celebrations as guests of Roger Bakurin, The GFAS Chief Fire Officer.
The trip up country was via 3 ferry crossings and a road journey that was predominantly made on the North Bank of the River Gambia.  Several vehicles were used to transport the large contingent of GFAS personnel and the GAFSIP party. These consisted of vehicles provided by Avon FRS, including stores vans and Chemical Incident Unit, which have all been converted into personnel carrying vehicles by GFAS staff. It was pleasing to see these vehicles, having been very well converted being put to a much needed use in the Gambia. Accommodation was provided by CFO Bakurin. The day was concluded by a meeting with the Upper River Division Governor who welcomed and thanked us for all the work that had been done under the Partnership.

The following full day’s celebrations consisted of presentations, displays, parades and community meals with the Minister of the Interior as guest of honour.  All the Gambian National Services were represented as were a lot of the local schools. The personnel representing GAFSIP were afforded excellent hospitality. The march past was taken by the Minister and was followed by speeches from the Minister, Governor and CFO Bakurin.
All speakers referred to GAFSIP and thanked everyone involved for their significant help in improving the wellbeing of their community.  The formal part of the celebrations concluded with Chris Millard presenting the Minister with much needed educational equipments and school furniture.  Further presentations to the community were made on behalf of the GAFSIP Partnership at the evening celebrations at Basse Fire Station. The Fire Station was filled with people from the community and food provided by GFAS.

The return journey on the following day gave an opportunity to make an unannounced visit to Bansang Fire Station to see both the Station and the health clinic that has been set up with GAFSIP help.  The Clinic is staffed by a nurse and a paramedic who provide health care to Station personnel and the community over a large geographical area. The service offered includes minor operations, treatment for diseases such as malaria and stabilisation of patients prior to transportation to hospital.

Much of the medication and equipment in use has been provided by GAFSIP. It was noted that good medical records were kept showing the preventative health programmes being provided. It was pleasing to see the Clinic well prepared for its role in the community, motivated personnel, and clear evidence that the medication provided by GAFSIP is getting to where it needed. Everyone at the Station had a real community spirit, and expressed their thanks for the work of GAFSIP in helping GFAS to provide the firefighting and health facilities.

Breathing Apparatus Training

A significant amount of work had been done by the Darren Thomas, Dave Price, Greg Doutre and Jan Morris prior to the visit with several of the trainers had been instructed in set maintenance by BA technicians in AFRS. A detailed daily programme had been developed, based on the technical BA notes issued within Avon FRS.  This schedule was dependant on full availability of trainees for the duration of the visit. It had been agreed by training staff that due availability of cylinders, compressor, and set spares and the conditions on fire stations in the Gambia the staff would be teaching that the sets should be checked on a weekly and not daily basis. The first full day of training was on Monday 19th November, with the amended schedule consisting of a 7 day programme. At the time of the course 600 full cylinders and 200 BA Sets had been transported but a new compressor was not available.

The 16 Trainees were selected from the training department instructors and a person from each of the stations, who would be responsible for training the staff at their respective locations.  A Training School member of Staff would support the station based trainer when undertaking the initial training for operational personnel. The introduction set out what was expected from the trainees as well as what they could expect from the trainers. The course was divided with Darren Thomas, Greg Doutre & Janette Morris each having a syndicate. They were supported by Dave Price as required. Students were issued the course training notes, which they were required to study each evening if they were to reach a satisfactory standard. The notes would form the basis of the information they would pass onto station based personnel. It was clearly explained that the course was assessable and that each student would have to give a presentation on: BA set description, checks, station level maintenance and cylinders. Specific areas covered on the course were;

  • Set description
  • Donning & starting drills
  • BA set wearing in fire kit
  • BA set fault finding
  • BA set wearing in fire training building
  • Weekly checks
  • Search & rescue exercises
  • BA wearing exercise briefing conducting and debriefing

The programme was designed to start from the basic set description and build up to more detailed instruction on the skills of wearing the new BA sets so that the students would be able to undertake scenario based training on stations compensate to the facilities they had available. The trainers worked to ensure that every student had the one to one tuition within the syndicates. The training staff found that students were well motivated and early on in the course were reporting a good standard of knowledge retention by students in their daily revision sessions. As the input moved on to cover exercises and don & start procedures staff continued to report that students were generally making good progress. It was pleasing that some students were able to support their colleagues who were experiencing difficulty in certain areas of the input. Mock assessments gave the Trainers and students an indication of any areas that needed additional work to develop skills.

The BA sets are equipped with the electronic monitoring unit (EMU) which it was hoped would eb replaced by a pressure guage during the visit. This unfortunately did not happen. The EMU requires a battery which should be changed annually. This is not realistic in the financial operating environment of GFAS.  The course did not cover detailed set maintenance over that which will be done at satin level.

Chris Millard discussed the situation regarding the EMU with CFO Roger Bakurin. IT was agreed that GAFSIP would provide 50 new batteries so that adequate sets could be put on the run in all locations. GAFSIP Trainers instructed one member of the GFAS Training staff in how to fit these batteries and handed control of the matter over to ADO Amat Janha.

The last 2 days of the course were spent on further exercises to make best use of the available time whilst assessments of all students were undertaken. The assessment consisted of a presentation to their syndicate trainer on;

  • Set description
  • Weekly checking procedures.

This was designed to replicate the standard they would have to achieve to effectively conduct station based initial BA training. All students reached a satisfactory standard in their presentations demonstrate good instructional techniques and knowledge levels. It was agreed by the syndicate trainers that all students were at a standard where they could give tuition to station personnel on the BA sets and undertake set wearing drills, and were therefore deemed to have passed the course.

Boat Training

The 2007 boat training was based on the recommendations of the 2006 training visit report. The input was given by Chris Geeke with Steve Putnam and Dave Price. Prior to the visit Chris Geeke was able to attend Samspeed Marine for some specialist training on engine maintenance.  Additionally Chris was able to purchase engine spares that were subsequently utilised whist undertaking maintenance training in the Gambia.  The sapper parts were purchase das a result of donations recited from several companies who were keen to assist the team on their visit. They were very ably and enthusiastically supported by Sub Officer Salifa Touray, of the GFAS, who readily gave his own time and commitment to make sure everyone got the most they could from the course.

The recommendations from 2007 planned to be covered by the course were:

  • That the equipment and safety kits are placed in the boat when responding to an emergency calls.
  • GFAS should develop a structured Induction programme for all new staff posted to sea Rescue Stations.
  • The station training programme that has been developed should be put in place to provide experience for boat coxswains and crew members
  • The programme should include sessions of realistic crew training to develop boat handling and maintenance, rescue techniques, and self survival skills.
  • The training programme that does not require the use of fuel e.g. familiarisation of safety equipment should be adopted
  • A Sea Rescue station mechanic should attend Barra station on a regular basis to carry out preventative maintenance on boats
  • There should be a specialist marine tools monitoring system put in place

The course was to be conducted at the Sea Bay Station in Bakau and the Gambia Naval Base in Banjul. The use of the Navy base again provided safe training waters for the crews and GAFSIP is grateful to the Head of the Gambia Navy base for allowing its continued use.

The Trainers had met some of the course students and managers of the Sea Rescued Stations during the first day of the visit and so very quickly settled into the course once the initial formalities and standards had been covered.  The first day of the course covered boat inventories and safety kit to find out if recommendation one had been implemented. It was found that crews are now taking the requisite equipment with them when launching the boat.  However at the time of the course only 4 of the 10 boats provided by Aztec Rotary had been commissioned and of these one had suffered significant damage to its transom.  An initial assessment of boat launching showed good basic skills by coxswains and crew members.

This set the tempo for the course and trainers continued to report good progress.  By day 2 they were using 3 boats and covering specifically;

  • Engine handling
  • Safe use engine whilst in the water
  • Coming alongside other craft
  • Use of throws lines
  • Mooring of baots
  • Swimming skills assessment

The training then moved on to incorporate capsize, manoeuvring, towing and landing drills.  Communicating with people who are being rescued drills was undertaken.  The maintenance skills were developed to include safe use of fuel tanks and engine maintenance. This was combined with a full boat strip down being demonstrated by the Trainers.  Over the next days these skills were further developed and by the Thursday the course had completed its work at the Navy base and continued to train at Bakau for the remainder of the course. 
During the training it became apparent that there are specific training needs for GFAS staff who are crew members, coxswains or instructors. A representative of Yamaha marine engines attended Sea Bay Station whilst the trainers we present to find out for himself what the issues were for the maintenance of boat engines in the Gambia.  The reality of the situation is that some of the routine maintenance recommendations (eg frequency of replacing parts within engines) are unrealistic in such Countries.

He was visibly shocked to find out marine engines are run on cooking oil as people cannot afford to purchase the correct marine grade oils in the Gambia.  As a result of these discussions and with negotiation by the GAFSIP Trainers, attendance at an engine maintenance training event was offered to GFAS staff.

On the afternoon of the Thursday the on duty crew from Bakau responded to a call to recover a body from the water at Denton Bridge. This proved to be a poignant reminder of life in the Gambia as the body recovered was that of a fellow firefighter who had drowned whilst trying to escape to better himself overseas.  The Trainers were able to witness the crew skills in dealing with the incident.  It was noted that whilst water and boat skills were satisfactory, post incident hygiene was not fully considered. There is only a rudimentary system of washing the boat and nothing in place to deal with crew personal hygiene apart from latex gloves.

As the body had been placed into the boat rather than being towed to an appropriate location this exposed the crew to additional hazards and therefore risks that could have been reduced. The incident also highlighted the need for effective communication to crews when responding to such incidents as part of ongoing training programmes. Despite working to set as high a standard in training and operations the human tragedy of this incident must remain uppermost.

It transpired from conversations with students that the programme of drills that do not use fuel is not being adhered to.  2 students also reported that they had not had any training at all. The Trainers were able to partly address the issue by conducting a ‘mini’ course in an afternoon.


Airfield Crash & Rescue Training

Unfortunately a lack of equipment caused many problems for the trainers. The reality is that in a real situation they would be putting themselves at great risk because of lack of PPE such as gloves etc.

The training went well with the new personnel getting a greater understanding of aircraft fire fighting.  We also talked to the officers explaining the importance of training each day and creating a training programme that they could follow. We also gave them ideas on training around the station like the search & Rescue training in the mini bus, hose running, ladder drills etc, which it is hoped will help them to develop further training programmes
The airport is now a separate element being funded by the airport itself, which means they will face ongoing training challenges that will need support to develop. Due to the logistical problems faced and the subsequent loss of training time we need to build on the training from this year we will need to develop training drills involving light aircraft, helicopters and trying to make the training more realistic with the new equipment they have.

Road Traffic collision

The training that was provided this year concluded some of the recommendations following the specific TRC input in 2006 to address the African Union summit training outcomes. RTC training should be included in station based training programmes and the packs left by the trainers should be utilised for this training. Overall the training went very well and was well received by the students.

Breathing Apparatus

The personnel who attended the course were generally well motivated to learn as much as possible from the course.  The skills that have been taught during the course are sufficient for the present needs of personnel to operate safely while wearing and maintaining the BA sets. However all personnel need to now practice these skills via a structured on going station training programme.
The syndicates were working well with their respective trainers. This proved valuable due to the course duration. They readily helped the trainers which built an excellent rapport and assisted in the success of the course. However due to the reduced course schedule, there are ongoing issues that will need to be addressed in future visits e.g.

  • BA set repair & routine maintenance by GFAS trained to technician level,
  • BA cylinder compressor
  • The long term use of the EMU and possible conversion to pressure gauges.

Boat Training

There is evidence that the skills level shown by crew members are continuing to improve overall but this improvement must be maintained if crews are to operate safely when working on the water.  Additionally the recommendations regarding routine and preventative maintenance of the boats and management of specialist tools should be more rigorously implemented. By the time of the next visit the Yamaha engines provided with the 10 rigid boats will have been on the run for over 12 months.  Future training of boats should therefore concentrate on engine maintenance and safe boat handling skills.

Education & Health

The list below is comprehensive of the associations benefiting in the last 12 months from donations of furniture, books, stationery, teaching aids, sewing machines and materials, children’s clothing and bedding and medical equipment.

Kabafita Mother’s Development Association
Kembujeh Women’s Yirawa Association
Latrikunda Women’s association
Fire fighters’ wives association

Sima Women’s vocational centre
St Martha’s women’s skills centre

The association for the protection of elder’s abuse

Gambia National Library

Bansang Hospital
Bikiling Clinic
Bwiam Sulayman Jukung Hospital
Essau Major health Centre
Fajikunda Health centre
Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital
Serekunda Health Clinic
AFPRC General Hospital Farafenni

Sukuta LB
The Rev. J. C. Faye Memorial School
Methodist special needs school in Kanifing South
Berending Upper Basic
Jerunku Lower Basic
Whinnies orphanage
St Cahrles Lwanga lower and upper basic
St Patrick’s lower basic
Tainding lower basic
AJA Fatou Bojang UB and SS School


Financial Statement


GAFSIP – Statement of Account
as at 28th March 2008

From 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008

b/f figure at 31/3/07 £
from (Brought forward 2006-07)  -13296
Shipping costs – Baldan 51517.65
Uniforms, IT & Other 1356
Bank Transfers (Automated credits) -36106
Paying In Cash/Cheque -7980
Donations/Other -12455
Surplus/Defecit for period to date -3667
Balance  (Surplus) Deficit -16963

The only expenditure other than shipping costs was polo shirts for trainers and fund raising events and costs incurred from the rally.

Income for the period exceeded expenditure by £3,667 leaving a balance of £16,963.

Anticipated costs for 2008/9 £24,000. A total of 7 fire appliances and 3 containers are planned.

The trustees and The Gambia are indebted to our stoic supporters who give so generously making this project possible

Report from The Gambia

Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership
Activities in The Gambia for 2007


Roger Bakurin & Team

March 2008

Report on the Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP) activities in The Gambia for 2007


Gambia and Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP) continue to set examples by providing valuable support such as equipment, fire-fighting & rescue appliances, educational materials, and training among others to a developing nation –The Gambia which is assisting to save lives and alleviate suffering. This is therefore contributing positively to the sustainable development process of the country.

A. Gambia Fire and Rescue Services:

  • Appliances and Equipment

This time round , Ten (10) rescue boats complete with the engines and safety kit ,ambulances, mini van,15 goddesses   and other vital materials were provided to The Gambia. The timely arrival of these appliances and equipments has elevated the work of GFS and others associated in many good ways.

The  delivery of the boats and accessories has make it possible for the Fire service to start operating three new rescue stations in the coastal areas of Tanje, Gunjur and Albreda respectively.  They are  in two regions namely in Western and North Bank region. These coastal fishing areas are vital for the communities’ livelihoods and the country as a whole. Gambians get most of our protein requirements from the sea and marine resources.

The 15 Green Goddesses appliances from the British Government are now filling the needy gaps of supporting the operations of The Fire Service and its associates all over the country especially in regions where facilities are limited. They are to serve a useful purpose of supporting the operation of The Fire Service during difficult rainy seasons and disaster response activities.

With the arrival of two more Ambulances to Fire Service, it has strengthened the paramedic and clinic section of the Brigade. This is crucial in the efficient service delivery to the public.

  • Capacity building and Training

Through GAFSIP continuous support, provide the opportunity for building a more effective fire service by building local capacity, filling service gaps and providing more robust public service. a training visit was conducted by Chris Millard and team from Avon Fire Service in November 2007, covering BA and Rescue Boat, boat handling and maintenance among other topics. The impacts included the provision of information on the best practices for providing good services to increase cooperation and coordination, improve training, broaden service delivery, sustainability and continual quality improvement
These continuous capacity building activities are paramount to the efficient and expanded services provided by the GFS country wide . This process has further led for the GFS to acquire new sites for fire stations in regions that are not yet covered adequately.

  • Fire/Disaster Safety Education Programs

Due to the training provided through GAFSIP, the Gambia Fire Service have started  implementing new and innovative fire safety, education and fire prevention programs in cooperation with other stakeholders such as the  schools and communities  in the regions The intent of this program is to get the community actively involved with the fire department and to prevent fires from starting.

  • Clinic support

Ambulances and clinic equipments provided has strengthened the health, safety and welfare programmes within the fire service.

  • Networking and Partnership

Working visit by Chief Fire Officer(CFO)-Gambia Fire Service

In 2007, the CFO,Mr Roger Bakurin travelled to UK on a working visit . This visit had great impact on The Gambian side. It provided the opportunity to renew contacts with partners, opportunity to show appreciation at personal level. Meet the family of Glynn Duck , who has been so supportive of the partnership, Important, too, was the widening of partnership at various levels which is already producing positive results in terms of  strengthening   and building of Fire fighters’  capacities in their various areas of work.

B. Education sector:

GAFSIP continue to complement Government efforts and to contribute towards meeting  the ever growing needs for educating Gambian children. More positive results have been registered in area of Education this time round again. The provision of assorted educational materials to various needy schools in the regions up country have led to significant, documented improvement in pupils’ achievement as expressed by interviewed teachers that have benefited from GAFSIP. Furthermore, with provision of reading books to the National Library, it has assisted the institution to strengthen and update it books stock for the various target groups.

  • Educational materials

GAFSIP’s generous support allows our schools to get needed books and curriculum materials, attract, support and retrain our excellent teachers, improve each school by supporting their School Improvement Plans, and contribute to prepare pupils in benefiting schools to reach their full potential.

  • Provision of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

The Bridge has now set up a training IT centre in Serrekunda Fire Station which is part of the literacy programme introduced by GAFSIP. Training is being conducted for fire fighters in basic computing. This will assist them in carrying out their duties such as recording keeping, data and information management.

With the provision of 12 computers and accessories to St Charles Lwanga Primary school by St.Michael’s Primary in Winterbourne,UK. The School has now started computer classes for the teachers which will later filter down to the pupils with time.

  • Twinning of schools (North –south cooperation at school level)

The twinning of schools through GAFSIP continued to add value to the partnership at School level. Last year witnessed the visit of Louisa Munton Head of Churchill Primary to Albion Lower Basic. This kind of partnership is useful as it benefit  :
-Building a long term connection and relationship with between our cultures at the school level
- Provide opportunity for Pen friend scheme at a personal level for children
-  providing feedback about life in The Gambia and UK.

C. Health sector

The GAFSIP provided assorted medical items to Regional Hospitals and Health Centres and Fire Service clinics. This kind of intervention has contributed toward creating windows of opportunities for improved service access, variety, service time, and reliability, increased value for money, capital, and innovation. It further assisted in strengthening the health delivery service in the country and continues complimenting Government efforts for provision of quality health services.

D. Community organizations

GAFSIP continue to support women’s groups and skill centres. In 2007, we sensitised and encouraged   women efforts through formation of Self-Help Groups in different parts of the country. Furthermore, GAFSIP facilitated for some groups through the provision of needed materials, the development of self-financing and activity sustainability mechanism. The main objective is to contribute towards the economic and social betterment of women. The idea was that this would both improve women’s status within their families and community and benefit their families.

Assessment & Monitoring

Need Assessment and monitoring visits were also conducted in 2007 by the GAFSIP team in UK. In particular, The Coordinator, Mr David Hutchings and Mrs Claire Hutchings did quarterly monitoring to conducted need assessment in some of the regions and also verify the allocation and use of donated goods within The Gambia. During those visits they provide advice as to improve the implementation of the activities at the country level.


We are deeply grateful to all the individuals, groups, organizations, corporations and foundations which have supported us. Their far-sighted understanding that even from small beginnings not-for-profit initiatives can make a substantial difference to the lives of the people in our society who most needs help is much appreciated.

We indebted to all of you that has made such great efforts to deliver the program and to make the year such a success. We particularly wish to thank and congratulate the Avon Authority, the Trustees, Kevin Parson, Avon’s Chief Fire officer, and Mr. and Mrs. David Hutchings, Coordinator of GAFSIP, for the fore sight.


GAFSIP continue to complement the Government of The Gambia efforts in bringing safe, effective and efficient fire and rescue cover to the people living in The Gambia.
Furthermore, providing needed support in the area of Education, Health and Community Development. Positive results continued to be registered these intervention areas, thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development of The Gambia.



Annex 1

Presentation of gifts on Friday, 20th June 2007 at the Gambia Fire and Ambulance Services Headquarters in Banjul at 11.30am by
Gambia and Avon Fire Service in Partnership


The following schools,regional directorate, skills centre, association and health facilities are to receive the donations:

  1. Albion Lower basic School (educational materials –Bibles, books, basketballs, football jerseys)
  2. St Charles Lwanga Lower Basic School (educational materials – books, computer accessories)
  3. Jimbala Lower Basic School (Central River Region)  (school furniture such as tables,  chairs, and books)
  4. St Anthony’s Basic cycle Basic School, Western Region (  educational materials- tables,  chairs, books, computer,printer)
  5. Jurunku  Lower Basic School ,North Bank Region
    (  educational materials-  tables, chairs, books, stationery)
  6. Region 2 Educational Directorate (educational materials, chairs)
  7. St Martha’s skill centre (Sewing Machines, assorted fabric,educational materials)
  8. Firefighters wives association (   Sewing Machines ,second hand clothing)
  9. Kabafita Women Association (assorted materials )Health sector:
  10. Bansang Hospital, Central River Region (assorted medical items,  blankets, baby bottles)
  11. Bwiam Sulayman Jukung Hospital, Western Region ( assorted medical items such as dressing materials, blankets, baby bottles)
  12. Fajikunda Health centre (  blankets, baby bottles)
  13. Eassau Health centre, North Bank Region, ( blankets, baby bottles)


Annex 2.

Presentation of gifts on Wednesday, 6th February 2008 at the Gambia Fire and Ambulance Services Headquarters in Banjul at 11.00am by
Gambia and Avon Fire Service in Partnership


The following schools, institution and health facility are to receive the donations:

  1. Albreda Lower Basic School (educational materials –books, chairs and desks)
  2. Albreda Upper & Senior Secondary School (educational materials – books, school furniture, sewing machines)
  3. National Library (Assorted books)Health sector:
  4. APRC Hospital, CRR (assorted medical items, bedding)