First mission in March 2017

Edward, Yves and Leo joined the team and in March 2017 the team headed to Nepal with 600 kg equipment. Goal: a 5-day basic firefighting training for 20 firefighters and 10 citizens. During these 5 days, the team learned what Bert and Johan already knew: Nepalese are go-getters, inventive and they realize wonderful things with little or no resources. There is this saying that summarizes it best: "Nothing is it guaranteed but everything is possible". It is the 'Nepali style'.

About F4N

‘Firefighters 4 Nepal’

How it started ...

In the past years Bert and Johan, two firemen and experienced Nepal travelers, visited the Himalayan country several times. Besides touristic destinations, they also visited the fire departments of Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur.  They were astonished discovering a shortage of training and the fact that their colleagues have to work with obsolete vehicles and equipment (e.g.: in Pokhara, the second largest city of the country with 350,000 inhabitants, there was only 1 old fire truck (+/- 50 years old).  When they jointed their colleagues to a car fire, they noticed how they fought the fire in t-shirt, on slippers, with a bicycle helmet on the head and without breathing apparatus !

It was the start of 'Firefighters 4 Nepal' (donating protective clothing and equipment and organizing training).

Fire Forum Awards

But first, in November 2017, 'Firefighters 4 Nepal' received 2 awards: the ‘Fire Forum Award of the Jury’ and the ‘Fire Forum Audience Award’.  A nice recognition for the work the team has done and in particular, very motivating to continue supporting the build-up of a solid fire service in Nepal.

Breathing apparatus 

Further to this collaboration, our Nepalese colleagues explicitly asked for breathing apparatus (equipment and training). With the exception of the capital Kathmandu and the Fire Department of the international airport of Kathmandu, not a single firefighter in Nepal has access to breathing apparatus.  A new challenge to meet !

Nepal, here we come (again) !

November 2018

A second trip to Nepal in November 2018 is planned. This one is much more challenging than the previous one and so were enlisted new team members: Karel, Nathalie, Kurt, Christophe, Francis, Hilde, Chrisje, Emmanuel, Mathieu, Tom, Marc and Pieter joined the team. Every single one of them is an added value, each with his/her own specialty.

This time we plan (once more) a 'basic firefighting & first aid’ training (with 56 instead of 30 firefighters and citizens), a ‘breathing apparatus’ and – important for the sustainability of the project – there will be a ‘train-the-trainer’ course:  8 firefighters are trained to become CFBT-instructor.

Besides the training, a sea container with 13 tons of material has been shipped to Kathmandu. This container is converted into a training module.

Christophe Cocquyt

Christophe (41y) is a volunteer firefighter in the municipality of Aalter (B) since 1995. He worked as a mechanic, planner and handyman in a family transportation business. In 2005 he became, besides working already as a volunteer, also a professional firefighter in Bruges (B). Christophe has al-ways been stimulated by firefighting training and worked himself up to become co-coordinator VTO (Formation Training Education) in the station of Bruges. In 2016, Christophe became an instructor in firefighting (CFBT). Adventurous travel is entirely his thing. With his motorbike, he makes several trips every year.

Our Team

Tom Sinnaeve

Tom (32y) was a professional soldier for 7 years, but exchanged the army for the fire brigade. In January 2014 he became a firefighter in Bruges (B). Tom has 20 years of experience in the world of youth work. In that environment, he gained a lot of experience in organizing. The ideal man to join our team in Nepal as a fix-er. Tom is also an EMT and participates in the ambulance and PIT (Paramedical Intervention Team) of Bruges. Far away countries appeal enormously to him and certainly if he can visit them in a group as F4N.

Yves Vermeulen

Yves(50y) is, since 1996, a professional firefighter in Bruges. Firefighting is his life! The step to become a fire fighter instruc-tor was therefore inevitable for Yves. Since he is fascinated by the most beautiful places on Earth and already made a lot of far journeys, his connection with the team, was a logical decision. Yves is a passionate instructor with a lot of experience in fire fighting. In 2017 he made promotion as sergeant in his fire brigade.

Bert Poelmans

Bert (49y) is the man who was present at the birth of Johan’s “crazy idea”. He has a lot of experience with trekkings in Nepal, he is a professional firefighter in Vilvoorde (Belgium) and is a certified nurse in emergency and intensive care. Bert also works as USAR medic at the B-FAST team. He took part in many B-FAST missions. Bert is the perfect man to teach our Nepalese colleagues every aspect about FIRST AID. He’s the Secretary of our organization.

Christel Mathys

Chrisje (35y) became a professional firefighter in Overijse (B) in 2007. She has a degree in physical education and English. Chrisje also teaches Emer-gency Medical Techniques at the Flemish Brabant school for emergency services. She also contributes to the day-to-day running and training in the fire department of Overijse. In 2016, Chrisje became a non-commissioned officer. She is fascinated by traveling so she started study-ing Spanish 8 years ago and now she speaks it fluently. Nepal is a very nice change for Chrisje in contrast of her many trips to the western continent.

Karel Lambert

Karel (39y) started his career in 2002 as a volunteer firefighter in Aarsele (B). Two years later he became a professional firefighter at the Fire Department of Brussel, capital of Belgium. Two more years later he became an officer. In 2005 he moved to Oostkamp (B), where he is still working as a voluntary corporal to this day. He has a great interest in different aspects of fire development and firefighting. Karel gives and follows a lot of training on this at home and abroad. He used to do a lot of voluntary work (youth work, sports), and wants to share his knowledge with F4N.

Francis Verleyen

Francis (26 y) started in 2012 as a volunteer firefighter in the municipality of Aalter (B), after having worked for several years at the youth fire bri-gade. During his studies he also worked as a firefighter and as an EMT. Af-ter he graduated, Francis worked for 2 years in the fire laboratory: War-rington Fire Gent. In 2016 he became an instructor and he started working in the East Flemish training school for fire brigades as a freelance instruc-tor. To this day, Francis works at Brussels Airport as a Technician Fire Pre-vention. He is responsible for the fire safety of the airport buildings.

Kurt D’helft Kurt

Kurt (43y) has been active in the fire department and is an EMT since 1993. Kurt is also fascinated by CFBT and is one of the instructors of the first hour. He is mainly specialized in giving training to all levels in the fire department. Kurt is currently also a professional non-commissioned of-ficer in Zone Fluvia post Kortrijk. He was very motivated to become part of the F4N-team. With the knowledge of Kurt, F4N becomes a lot stronger again.

Johan Schots

Johan (46y) is the founder of the whole project. In 2012 after finishing a trekking in the Himalayas, together with Bert, they could ride along with the local firefighters. That was the start of a “crazy” idea. This crazy idea would become the foundation of the project Fire-fighters 4 Nepal. Johan has 15 years of experience in international emergency aid (Red Cross, B-FAST). Because of his multiple stays in Nepal he has an extensive local network of contacts which makes sure that during our missions everything just runs that little bit smoother. He is the President of our organization.

Edward Savat

Edward (33y) started his career in 2005 at the fire department of Maldegem as a voluntary firefighter. In 2011 he became a professional firefighter at the fire department of Bruges. He followed training at the East and West Flemish fire department school. He became a fire fighter instructor in 2016. In the medical field he became a qualified ambu-lance driver for the paramedic intervention teams. Edward has a degree in engineering and before his professional career as fire fighter, he worked as a diagnostic technician on heavy commercial vehicles. In our organization Edward is the Treasurer.

Nathalie Van Moorter

Nathalie’s (40y) first steps in a fire brigade go back to 2012 as a volunteer in the fire department of De Haan-Wenduine (B). Two years later she worked as a professional officer at the fire brigade in Ostend. In addition to a number of training courses at home and abroad, she also joined the team of CFBT instructors ( Nathalie studied architectural engineering and worked for the city of Bruges before her professional career as an officer. The combination of a long journey to a remote country and the possibility for sharing her knowledge, did not make Nathalie doubt for a second about joining the F4N-team.

Hilde Gielis

Hilde (37y) from Duffel (B), graduated as a child nurse with specialization emergency and intensive care. She worked for 10 years in an ER. In 2015 she made a career switch to the Flemish Brabant training school for fire brigades (PIVO). She is specialized in teaching EMT and is responsible for coordinating the EMT trainings. You can also find Hilde working as an EMS on the ambulance services. She recently followed the basic course for B-FAST and is also studying psychology. She wants to improve psycho-emotional support of aid workers. She is the perfect person to teach our colleagues in Nepal all about first aid.

Emmanuel Goossens

Manu (44y) has been a firefighter since 1998 in Overijse (B). Although he first started as a volunteer, he became a professional fireman 5 years lat-er. He has focused on giving training to firefighters. He gives training in his own station and at the PIVO, the Flemish Brabant training school for fire brigades. He has a great interest in international aid support. He took the opportunity to become a volunteer at B-FAST in 2009 with both hands. He is very motivated to provide our Nepalese colleagues with the necessary fire training courses.

Marc Casteleyn

Marc (50y) started as a volunteer at the fire department of Torhout (B) when he was 18 years old. He is still a volunteer firefighter when he is not working as an official at the Ministry of Justice. Marc is an instructor for CFBT (Compartment Fire Behaviour Training) .He is fascinated by interna-tional relations between fire brigades. He already visited the fire brigade of Dzerdjinsk (Belarus) twice to provide them knowledge and techniques about CFBT. Marc is therefore extremely motivated to help F4N with their mission.

Mathieu Van Moorhem

Mathieu (25y) is the youngest Firefighter 4 Nepal. He joined the voluntary fire brigade of Kaprijke (B) in 2012. In addition to being a passionate vol-unteer, he is also a manager at MVM Assistance, a metal construction company. We welcome his qualities in both jobs. We need these for the conversion and adjustments of training containers for our CFBT training. Mathieu is therefore the perfect man to join our team. In the past he al-ready did projects abroad with his company and consider our project as a beautiful challenge to combine all his passions.

Pieter Maes

For Pieter (42y) everything started in 1996 as a volunteer at the Red Cross department. Five years later he became a professional firefighter in Leu-ven (B) and he is an EMT as well. In 2010 he moved to the fire department of Brussels and also participated in a training course to become a CFBT in-structor at the fire department in Croatia. From that moment Pieter start-ed to focus on firefighting training. He is the founder of the BIN (‘Brand-weerman In Nood’, or ‘Firefighter In Danger’) project that focuses on training (self-rescue) for firefighters in difficult situations. Finally, Pieter is a certified instructor WMS (Wilderness Medical Society), an American or-ganization that provides first aid courses around the world focused on wilderness.

Pieter Tacquet

Pieter (37 y) took his first steps as a firefighter on his 21st birthday at Fire Station Oostkamp (Belgium) where he is currently non-commissioned officer. After 4 years of as a professional firefighter in Bruges, he made a career switch as an entrepreneur in the event sector, specialized in logistics in the broad sense of the word. After the arrival of his kids Suze, Kylie and Lou, his family asked a bit more time and he's recently become professional firefighter in Brussels.In addition to the firefighter work, Pieter is also an ambulance driver since 15 years. He is the owner of a Dräger certificate and therefore has an extended knowledge of SCBA (Self-contained breathing apparatus).He usually makes adventurous journeys in and outside Europe with his family, but is pleased to join the F4N-team.

Els Debobbeleer

Els (°1990) has been working at Brussels Airport Company as Executive Assistant since 2015.
In 2018, together with the airport fire department, she published a cookbook in Dutch and French packed with facts about how the airport fire department works and with recipes for large groups, ideal for other fire departments. All proceeds from this went to F4N. In the fall of 2019, she toured Nepal and it was a fantastic experience. So she did not hesitate for long when she was asked to join F4N in 2021. Els takes on accounting duties and is a board member.

Anton Verleyen

Anton (°1994) began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Aalter, Meetsjesland area. Since 2021 he is also a professional firefighter/operator at Zaventem airport. Organizing is his middle name! Both for the day of the emergency services in Aalter and for the airshow Ursel Avia, he is a pillar to build on. This is no different for our organization. Anton provides logistical support and planning.