Chicago firefighters leave for volunteer mission to Puerto Rico

CHICAGO -- A group of Chicago firefighters are leaving for Puerto Rico Wednesday morning to deliver some much needed supplies.

Twenty-two members of the Chicago Fire Department boarded a United flight to San Juan around 8 a.m..

The firefighters are using 10 days of unpaid vacation time to do this.

They're bringing emergency supplies and communications equipment.

Most of the firefighters have personal ties to Puerto Rico, with either family or friends living on the island, and are eager to help.

Twenty of them are bilingual.

They are set to partner up with the San Juan Fire Department to do whatever they can to assist in the island's recovery.

The 21 men and one woman are joined by Alderman Ariel Reboyras for an effort planned jointly by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Mayor Emanuel, the volunteers and United Airlines.

United was happy to cover all travel costs.

Commissioner Jose Santiago was there at O'Hare Airport to send off the firefighters, and he says many more had offered to go too.

The city will assess whether to send another contingent based on the next 10 days.