Mexico/USA — Several Yuma-area fire departments have more firefighting gear and tools to do their jobs, thanks to the generosity of a nearby California fire department.
According to Somerton/Cocopah Fire Department spokesman Robby Rodriguez, the SCFD was recently contacted by the San Bernardino County Fire Department, which informed him they were going to clear out their retired firefighting turnout gear and asked him if any of the fire departments in Yuma County would be interested in having it.
“This gear isn’t just helping us out, it is helping several other fire departments in our area and in Mexico,” Rodriguez said.
Turnout gear is the protective clothes firefighters wear when responding to calls. From head to toe, it costs about $4,000 to equip a firefighter, according to Rodriguez.
Firefighters from the SCFD drove to San Bernardino and picked up approximately 70 sets of coats and pants, 50 sets of wildland firefighting gear, nozzles, gated wyes and fittings.
“Some of the equipment was still in packages,” Rodriguez said. “After it has all been tested, we will determine if it is serviceable and keep some of it.”
Rodriguez said that large fire departments such as San Bernardino put a timeline on replacing their gear. So, at the end of that time, even if the gear is still in good condition, they stick to their replacement schedule.
“Our budget is not big enough to have a retirement period on our gear,” Rodriguez said.
While some of the gear was torn, Rodriguez said it could be mended with the appropriate fire retardant/resistant materials and still be usable. “We can still use it for training purposes and other things, and use our gear for responding to actual calls for service,” Rodriguez said. “Doing this will extend the life of our gear.”
Rodriguez said the nozzles and appliances that the SCFD received, if they had been bought new, would cost $24,188. They also received $8,749 of wildland firefighting gear and $98,000 worth of turnout gear.
Rodriguez said the SCFD gave the Winterhaven Fire Department 25 sets of turnout gear for their reserve firefighters; the San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., Bomberos Rurales another 20 sets; and the Bomberos de Puerto Peñasco approximately 15 sets.
“The firefighters from the Bomberos Rurales were very excited about receiving the firefighting gear,” Rodriguez said. “They were here within the hour to get their gear. It is top-of-the-line gear, and since it is modern, it’s a lot safer than the stuff they currently use.”
This is not the first time the San Bernardino County Fire Department has given SCFD gear.
Rodriguez said the SCFD has been working with the firefighters from Mexico with CPR training and firefighter basic training for many years.
The SCFD has also been working with Somerton City Council member Jose Yepez in helping the firefighters from the Puerto Peñasco Fire Department and its Airport Crash Fire Rescue.