One of those vivid memories I have of living in Niger our first year is the day I was walking to catch a taxi with the kids, and actually seeing a fire truck. It wasn't more than two blocks from the house and we'd heard the sirens, but we'd assumed that it was the escort for one of the government figures. It wasn't - it was the siren of an actual fire truck. And the truck itself was on fire. Now, granted, we didn't know all of the circumstances, but it didn't give me a whole lot of confidence in the city of Niamey's fire fighting ability to see that the only fire truck I'd seen within a year's time was on fire before my very eyes...
Since then, I can't say that I've ever seen another one in the 7+ years we've lived here. Theoretically, I figured they existed - a friend told me about her daughter's school field trip to see a fire truck and meet the fire men - but last night, Tim actually saw one in action. It was an old truck. It didn't have all the fancy equipment one might see on a fire truck elsewhere. The fire men needed much bigger flashlights to actually see what they were doing (thankfully, the moon was quite bright last night). All in all, quite a bit different from what we'd expect back in Michigan, but he was pleasantly surprised.
The home of missionary friends caught on fire last night. It is amazing the amount of damage that can be done in a cement block house by fire - but since the ceilings are often dropped and made of wood paneling, once that catches on fire, it can be difficult to stop, especially with minimal equipment (one high pressure hose, no ladders...). The fire spread quickly through the ceiling space, following electrical wires down into the cement walls, and turning closets into infernos.
Today, we are praising God that our friends are safe, and we were thankful to see the quick response to their need, even in the late evening, from the local fire force, US Embassy and Marine personnel, and the local missionary community, as well. Please join us in praying for this family - especially one of their little girls - the fire began in her room, and she has basically lost everything, and as they begin the painstaking job of restoring their home.Picture from Fire House Designs, 2002.