Firefighters respond to call for help from Afghanistan - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Firefighters respond to call for help from Afghanistan

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Soldiers in Afghanistan are receiving help from firefighters thousands of miles away in Waterloo.

A recent fire on an Eastern Afghanistan army base destroyed a maintenance building, fortunately no one was injured. But the blaze left one soldier serving overseas wishing he had his gear from back home.

Waterloo firefighters are reminded of it every time they suit up -- one of their brothers is facing a different kind of danger.

"That's kind of humbling. To see Garrett's helmet there, and to see his name right on the back. To know where he's at, what he's doing, it kind of gets to you a little bit," said Waterloo Fire Captain Mike Moore.

Moore knows Garrett Gingrich, not as an Army Captain, but as one of his trainees.

"I tell them when they're done, if there's anything they ever need... get ahold of me, I'll do whatever I can for them," he said.

For Gingrich, that day came a few weeks ago while describing a large fire in a note home to his family.

"He was really disappointed, and it sounded like, maybe a little upset, that there was nothing he could do to help. He just had to stand there. And he thought, gosh, if I just had some fire gear, I maybe could have made a difference," said Moore. "Right on the email, it said, see if Captain Moore can get some fire gear. And it just so happened, I knew where some was at."

The department keeps dozens of suits at a training facility near the edge of town.

"We get a lot of used gear -- and it's pretty good used gear. We get it coming in so we can train with it, just use it for practice stuff," Moore said.

A recent donation proved to be a blessing in more than one way. The gear was in great shape, and a couple suits were perfect for Gingrich's needs.

"I wouldn't send him anything that would possibly jeopardize his safety. I picked out some good stuff."

Moore and the rest of the department didn't think twice about helping Gingrich. It's just what you do for your brother.

"It's a family. Even though Garrett's gone, helping other people, doing his job over there, he's still a big part of here too," said Moore.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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