The Valley Church Piqua donates fire truck to Honduras people


By Kathleen Leese

For Miami Valley Today

PIQUA — In the next couple of months, a 30-ton fire truck, complete with a ladder that will reach seven-stories-high, will travel to Honduras thanks to efforts of The Valley Church Piqua and the U.S. Air Force.

The fire truck, currently on display at The Valley Church, Piqua, will become the second fire truck to go to Honduras and for the Honduran people from The Valley Church.

Rob Alexander, of Piqua, first became involved with Honduran mission trips through The Valley Church after learning about them through Pastor Paul Jetter, founding pastor of The Valley Church, and his wife Mary. They had served as missionaries to the under-served country in the 1980s and 1990s.

Alexander said he was “dragged kicking and screaming” in 2009 on his first mission trip to Honduras after his wife Julie and their three daughters wanted to experience missions. He smiled recalling stepping off the plane in Honduras and “setting my stop watch” to the minute he would be able to leave the country and come home. Today, he is “in love” with the people and the country of Honduras.

This year will be the 14th time Alexander has gone to the country, and right now approximately 21 people plan to join him, although more are welcome to go. Over the years, 125 people have joined him and it is the primary mission for The Valley Church, which is affiliated with the Northwest District Church of the Nazarene.

In 2018, thanks to Finley’s Fire Equipment in Ohio, the first fire truck was donated.

“This all started back in 2015 or 2016,” Alexander said.

During a mission trip to Honduras, former Portsmouth, Ohio Assistant Fire Chief Bill Raison, who was on the trip, discovered the only fire truck was on wooden blocks with no transmission.

“‘Wouldn’t it be cool to buy them a fire truck?’” he asked Alexander.

The rest was history and Alexander said, God had a plan.

The first fire truck was shipped through the Port of Baltimore and arrived to much fanfare and the approval of the National Congress of Honduras since the Honduran fire departments are federalized. The fire truck was even featured on the news in the country.

A “Jaws of Life,” oxygen tanks, helmets and other fire gear were sent in 2019 with the truck and they continue to take gear during every mission trip.

In 2021, it was learned they might be able to get another fire truck. They had learned while visiting La Cieba, Honduras that they had five fire trucks and none of them worked. Then the second fire truck became available. This time it was the fire truck complete with a seven-story-tall ladder that sits now at The Valley Piqua waiting to travel to Honduras.

“We didn’t have a plan for getting it down there (to La Cieba),” Alexander said.

One day Alexander got a call from Honduras from a man with a “very authoritative voice” telling him he was the liaison between Honduras and the U.S. military. He told Alexander about the Denton program, which allows for humanitarian cargo to travel from the United States to other locations in the world using the U.S. military. It required they apply to the United States Air Force to have the fire truck transported on a C17 or a C5 cargo plane.

The fire truck has been approved for airlift by the United States Air Force and Alexander wants to thank them for their help with transportation. It requires engineers to evaluate how to anchor the huge fire truck in the plane and to see if it can withstand 3G’s of force. Through God’s intervention, Alexander said, engineers were found to handle the work for free.

While the tentative date to send the truck to Honduras via Wright Patterson Air Force Base is May 10, it is anticipated it will likely be the end of May or June.

Additionally, the fire truck must be inspected before it leaves. A native Honduran who lives in the United States will do that at no charge.

The truck, complete with new LED lights and new tires valued at $12,000 were donated and the old tires will be sent along due to the rough terrain in Honduras allowing them to have an extra set of tires.

In addition to the donation of the fire truck, valued at approximately $100,000, two skids of fire gear and another Jaws of Life are being donated. Botkins Fire Department is donating equipment to allow oxygen tanks to be filled since there is only one place in Honduras that can do that. Batteries, decals and paint valued at $600 to $800 per can have been donated.

In addition, Alexander said, the church previously obtained a boat motor for a fire department’s boat in Honduras because they had used two men to swim behind the boat propelling it along for water rescues.

On Sunday, April 28, the community are invited to services at The Valley Church Piqua, 1400 Seidel Parkway, at 9:15 a.m. or 11 a.m., and have an opportunity to join the church in prayer for the truck and see it in person. The following Sunday, May 5, the truck will be at The Valley Church Troy at 9:15 and 11 a.m. for prayer and a chance to see the truck. It was at The Valley Church Sidney last week.

Alexander said those in the community interested in going to Honduras from June 29 to July 7, 2024, can contact The Valley Church Piqua at 937-778-8822 and leave a message for him.

“God was working these miracles,” Alexander said of all the donations and getting the fire trucks. “It’s not us. It’s God. He provides.”

The writer is a regular contributor to Miami Valley Today.

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