LIMA, Peru — Earlier this month, the memory of Capt. Vernon Richard, a member of the Fire Department of New York who died on Sept. 11, was honored with the donation of a fire truck presented to the Peruvian Volunteer Fire Corps where Christopher Dunn, OFM, serves as chaplain to Company 120 and the 24th Division — Lima South. It is the third truck donated to the Fire Corps, which is composed of five battalions and 18 companies.
”This newest arrival serves rescue, ladder, and pumping functions,” said Chris. “The aerial ladder can reach up to four or five stories. It is the only one of its kind in this region of Lima, which has a population of over 1.7 million.”
The new fire truck was put into service on Nov. 2 and had its first emergency call on Nov. 4, according to Chris.
The firehouse is located in Lima’s Southern Cone, an area originally settled as shantytown slums, said Chris. “Almost 61 percent of the population lives in poor or very poor socio-economic conditions,” he noted.
Vernon, who died at age 53, joined the New York City Fire Department in 1977 where he spent 16 years in the busy South Bronx section known as Mott Haven. In 1994‚ he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He was the first black appointed from that list and was assigned to Tower Ladder 7 at 234 E. 29th Street in Manhattan until his death.
According to Chris, with help from Mutual Aid Training Group – a group that provides intensive training in firefighting techniques around the world – this new truck was able to reach its destination. The American group of firefighters also provides financing to acquire the used vehicles and transport them to Lima and they offer a week of training in Lima, for the local fire companies.
The Peruvian Fire Corps has received two other fire trucks that were donated in memory of FDNY members who died on Sept. 11. In 2014, a 1980 Hahns pumper was donated in memory of Lt. Joseph Leavey, and in 2012, the Dumont, N.J., Fire Department donated a truck named after Mychal Judge, OFM, the beloved chaplain who was killed while administering last rites to a firefighter.
“After several huge industrial and commercial fires last year, the fire corps has had a huge influx of new volunteers this year,” said Chris. “I have been working with the new volunteer recruits doing spiritual fortitude and psychological resilience training based on models from the U.S. military and the Federation of Fire Chaplains that I learned about while visiting the States last year.”
Chris, who has served in Peru since 1981, is the vicar at Santa Ana Parish, located in the Diocese of Lurin in Lima, Peru.
“The bishop of Lurin was very happy that I was working as a fire chaplain and did not assign me additional pastoral duties when I returned after the Province turned the parish over to the diocese,” said Chris. “I have more time to dedicate to the fire department ministry, as well as to helping out at Santa Ana Parish. The next project is finding a light rescue truck for the fire station that covers the city and our parish area.”
– Johann Cuervo is a communications assistant in the Provincial Office.
- “Friars Safe as Coastal El Niño Floods Peru” — April 11, 2017, HNP Today
- “After 15 Years, Peru Chapel Dedicated by Bishop” — Nov. 10, 2016, HNP Today
- “Celebrating 50 Years of Franciscan Ministry in Peru” – Dec. 23, 2014, HNP Today
- “Peru Firehouse Equipment Dedicated to Mychal Judge” — May 14, 2014, HNP Today
- “A Week of Training, A Year of Collaboration” – Feb. 29, 2012, HNP Today