Toledo, US, pitches in to provide fire fighting equipment to Mexican resort town
Toledo, on Friday, 14 December 2018, became part of a three-nation effort to help improve fire fighting and emergency services in the Cancun-area vacation town of Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Puerto Morelos is described on its bilingual website as a small Caribbean fishing village about a 15-minute drive south of Cancun Airport. The village is marketing itself as a relaxing getaway for those wanting to avoid the hustle-and-bustle of Cancun, in fact, it separated from Cancun and became its own municipality only two years ago. “Yet this little town remains relatively undiscovered,” the promotional literature states in its enticing pitch, which includes images of spectacular saltwater beaches and sugar-like sand. “Not to be missed, Puerto Morelos is a hidden gem.”
Yet, as a relatively undiscovered hidden gem and as an emerging destination for both tourists and expatriates, Puerto Morelos lacks some basic essentials, such as enough fire fighting gear and equipment. Toledo Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Karen Marquardt learned that several months ago while vacationing in Puerto Morelos with her family in celebration of her 50th birthday, Pvt Sterling Rahe, Toledo Fire and Rescue Department spokesman, said.
Battalion Chief Marquardt decided to help after hearing the newly created community put out a call for help. She inquired about some of Toledo’s used fire fighting gear that, while still good, had been retired and put into storage because of rules governing periodic upgrades and replacements.
Retired Toledo Fire and Rescue Chief Luis Santiago and his replacement, Chief Brian Byrd, signed off on her request and the gear was loaded onto a do-it-yourself moving trailer on Friday morning. It is being driven to Denver this weekend by Mark Moffett, a retired TFD fire fighter and lifelong friend of Battalion Chief Marquardt. Moffett now lives in Denver. He drove out here and is driving back with the loaded trailer at his own expense and that of Battalion Chief Marquardt, Private Rahe said.
That’s because the city of Edmonton, Alberta’s fire department has also learned about Puerto Morelos. It created a Go Fund Me drive to buy the Mexican coastal village a new fire truck. As of Friday, it had raised $11 445 of its $13 200 goal. Even that doesn’t pay for everything, though: The value of Edmonton’s donated truck and fire equipment is $35 000, according to its Go Fund Me page.
Edmonton’s plan, according to an email from retired Edmonton Fire Chief Chris Hardeman, is to leave Western Canada on 3 January 2019 with the fire truck, swing by Denver on 5 January 2019 to pick up Toledo’s donations and arrive in Puerto Morelos on or about 12 January, a 4 000-mile drive. It has arranged with border agents from the two nations to enter Mexico through Laredo, Texas, on or about 7 January. “We are waiting on one last piece of paperwork from Mexico and we are set to go,” Chief Hardeman wrote.
He said he plans to be accompanied by at least two others and spend seven to 10 days in Puerto Morelos training fire fighters there how to use the truck and embrace other fire fighting techniques.
Battalion Chief Marquardt could not be reached Friday. But Private Rahe said she and Moffett are excited about Toledo’s contribution, which is mostly used boots, fire pants, coats and helmets. “This actually started last February,” Private Rahe said. “It’s taken that long to jump through all of the hoops.” He said what’s being donated is “gear that’s serviceable but past its life limit for us.” “It’s gear that has some value to the fire fighters of Puerto Morelos,” Private Rahe said. “I think sometimes we take for granted everything we have.”
Source: Toledo Blade