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San Miguel Community Foundation Donates New Rescue Truck to the Bomberos: Meet Our Heroes

BOMBEROS SAR5799

By Mittie Roger

An efficient and failproof fire department is something that US citizens may take for granted. Fully funded by the government, they avail the public of a multitude of emergency services¾from fires to accidents to cats in trees. But do the firefighters in Mexico provide the same services? Are they funded in the same way? It may come as a great surprise to visitors and locals alike that the San Miguel firefighting team has very few resources with which to save lives and property.

San Miguel boasts of a robust firefighting team¾including 45 members, 20 of them women. Of those 45 firefighters, only five are paid staff, while the rest are volunteers. With expenses around 100,000 pesos a month and a monthly stipend of slightly over half of that sum (56,000 pesos) from the municipal government, it’s easy to imagine how difficult it must be to meet the needs of the people of San Miguel de Allende.

Relying on a network of sister cities and community efforts to acquire used equipment, the firefighters often have outdated materials, which can mean a significant increase in risk. From heavier air tanks to respirator gauges with fewer safety measures, these volunteer firefighters put themselves in harm’s way to help the people of San Miguel anyway.

Just how much do they do? Let’s put this in perspective: SMCF donated a new truck to the firefighting team at the end of August, and since then, the truck has made 193 rescues and saved 47 lives. It is currently the most active vehicle in the fleet. Bomberos spend eight months training to serve the community despite being mostly comprised of volunteers, and all of the services that they provide are free to the public. They even offer free training to firefighters in other cities in Mexico to improve the quality of nationwide services.

After the donation of the truck, they needed to pay the 80,000 pesos insurance, requiring the firefighters to turn to the Patronato Board, which helps them locate and administer funds. Despite being underfunded and running unnecessary risks due to outdated equipment, when we ask Juan Anotnio Pérez Solis, President of the Bombero’s Patronato Board, he said, “helping people is what matters.”

What exactly do the Bomberos need? Topping their list are a new first-response truck and 60 new fire hoses at approximately US$140 per hose. Self-contained breathing apparatuses, air tanks, and ventilating equipment rank high on their list of needs as well. Currently, they have 25 such pieces of equipment to serve the 45 fire fighters, and many are old, making them exceptionally heavy and hard to carry while in the field. Additionally, the team needs new mouthpieces, Hailgan bars, and hatchets. While they would love to update their firefighting suits, the cost of buying new ones is prohibitive. They would, however, happily update their suits to newer used models.

Wondering what you can do to help? Contact Juan Antonio Pérez Solís at caballos5000@hotmail.com or 415 119 4978 for more information on donations and additional ways to assist this noble and important cause.

 

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