WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --
West Palm Beach Firefighter Lt. Nate Lasseur may be fighting fires in South Florida, but his thoughts are often about an island more than 500 miles away.
Three years ago, Lasseur hopped on a plane to visit his parent's homeland of Haiti, where, in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haitian firefighters watch over two million people. Lasseur went to the small island nation in order to see if he could help the firefighters there, most of who work in donated gear.
"As a child, I grew up doing missions work with my mom and dad, and that's where it all started for me," Lasseur said.
Lasseur thought his first trip wasn't a big deal -- he had only brought two fire helmets with him because that is all that he could carry on the flight. But what he didn't know was how needed those helmets really were.
"I was limited on what I could carry, so I brought two helmets. I didn't think it was such a big deal until I would go back and the only fire helmets they had were the ones I brought in," Lasseur told WPBF News 25.
Every time he would fly back to Florida, Lasseur would remember the smiles of the firefighters back in Haiti and the lasting impression they made on him. Inspired by that feeling and his religious faith, Lasseur founded the grass-roots organization Carribean Firefighters Assistance Foundation.
"It's a brotherhood, regardless of where you're at," Lasseur told WPBF. "I think we are all called to minister in one way or another. Even through fire-service, I have the belief that everything I'm doing is all driven by God."
Nate Lasseur Lasseur continues to make trips to Haiti to bring the firefighters there old fire gear that is donated from firefighters in the U.S. He also teaches basic medical care and advanced rescue techniques to firefighters who have no paramedic training. Lasseur also taught emergency training to a group of community leaders so that they will be able to handle disaster situations.
"I believe if we can help the situation in Haiti, people would be less likely to come to the states if they had a stable country," Lasseur told WPBF.
Although his father passed away years ago, Lasseur still carries with him the lessons and instructions he was taught.
"'Without vision, God's people parish,' is one of the things he used to say a lot," Lasseur explained.
The biggest hurdle Lasseur faces is getting gear to Haiti. Over the past couple years he's managed to hand deliver dozens of various types of protective gear to the island, but the firefighters still need more help. Fortunately, the Florida Association of Voluntary Agencies for Caribbean Action, a volunteer based group, financed his last trip.
Monetary donations can be mailed to:International Firefighters Assistance, Inc.
For your donation to be tax-deductible, all checks should be made payable to: WPBFOF with "IFA Refief Donation" written in the memo line.
For information on how to donate equipment, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-255-9603.
Copyright 2007 by WPBF.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.