BISBEE — Happy civil protection directors and mayors from Naco and Cananea, Sonora, recently drove back across the border with trucks loaded with firefighting gear that has passed the expiration date and cannot be used here in the U.S.
“Just because the gear has expired doesn’t mean it’s not safe to use,” said Mayor David Smith. “And, some of the tanks are still within the service date.”
He welcomed sister city mayors Andrea Ramos, from Naco, and Cananea Mayor Edwardo Quiroga last week as Bisbee firefighters began moving the breathing apparatus (SCBA) with harnesses and spare tanks into the back of trucks.
Ramos was very appreciative of the donation as her city’s volunteer firefighters have little in the way of firefighting equipment.
“This is really helpful to us,” she said.
Smith noted the BFD was able to donate the SCBA gear thanks to a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant and the Redlands Fire Department, in Calif., which provided funds for the city’s department to get new SCBAs and other needed gear, as well as help the Naco, Ariz., and the San Jose Volunteer Fire Districts. The new gear includes thermal imaging cameras so firefighters can “see” possible victims and a cascade system to fill air tanks.
“We were able to help three cities and two countries with one grant,” noted Smith.
Raul Corona, Director of Civil Protection in Naco, Sonora, smiled wide as he tried on the breathing masks and learned how to seal it tightly against his face as instructed by BFD Capt. James Richardson.
Corona’s team received 13 sets of SCBA gear along with a few spare tanks.
Damian Hernandez, Cananea city manager, pointed out their fire department had no SCBAs to fight fires. He also explained the SCBAs will also go to police officers and Red Cross volunteers as they often can be first on scene.
“They’re all first responders,” he added.
When Smith found out the sister cities lacked firefighting gear, he began talks with the mayors to see how they could help.
“You can’t respond to fires with no equipment,” he said. “Anything we have that’s serviceable can be used.”
Since the gear is outdated in the U.S., the equipment is valued at zero dollars and the city can donate it, Smith added.