Cabo Fire Department Enjoys Support

Everyone loves a fire truck

BY CAM PAYNE

The Cabo San Lucas Firefighters (Bomberos) was first established in 1982, when Gildardo Payan, originally from Sinaloa, began the volunteer group with simple buckets of water, walkie talkies and using his own beat up vehicle to answer the calls. Now the local fire fighting brigade has 60 active volunteers and a roster of about 130 that contribute whenever they can, a group of young men who are considered ''floaters''.

The Cabo San Lucas firefighters say they are a public service totally dependent on fundraising efforts from donations and whatever money they make from their fire fighters’ Tshirt store, which is adjacent to the firehouse, behind the McDonald's on the main drag coming into town. The store generates a “good amount”, (undisclosed) of money during high season and little to none during the slow months of August and September. The fire department receives funding from the city of Los Cabos government offices which pays for the upper management salaries, telephone service, gas for the trucks, and the building's electric bill. The volunteer man power, which is in no shortage, adds the rest. The donated money goes to unspecified needs.

Los Bomberos currently has 11 red fire trucks and one green truck sitting at their facilities. They have so many fire trucks they can’t even cram them into their fire house, so they sit across the street, leaning up against McDonalds. "We have four of them that are not working, because we need U.S. made parts, along with a mechanic who knows how to put them into fire trucks,'' said Commander in Chief, Jose Carbajal.

Los Bomberos have shared or donated trucks and equipment to the Baja California Sur neighboring cities of Miraflores, Santa Anita, Santiago, Los Barriles and Las Veredas, he says. "When we have an opportunity, we always share with others,'' said Comandante Carbajal.

At one point, The fire department received money from an annual chili-cook off, but that event ended when the chilli cook-off organizer, Mary Bragg, owner of Pancho’s restaurant, became frustrated with the corruption that existed in the fire department at that time. For now, the only means of fundraising is the T shirt shop and donations that have come from Gringos and from proceeds raised as part of the annual Sabor a Cabo gastronomic event. Sabor a Cabo also contributes money to the Red Cross.

The average number of emergency calls per month also fluctuates depending on the season, but a typical amount hovers around 200 - 300 calls per month, swears Comander Carbajal. Say, what? With no wooden building in the town, they are claiming 6 to 10 calls a day? Remember, unlike in the States, the fire department here does not field ambulances. We’re talking 6 to 10 cinderblock fires a day. Or cat rescues. That could be it, maybe a lot of cats get stuck in palm  trees. Firemen are very handy at cat rescues. And there are brush fires. And there are lean-to’s in the barrio made from bits of wood. Too bad there’s no fire station in the barrios, the only one is in the tourist area along the coast.

Every Saturday from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm, the fire department fiddles around at their fire house. They hold try outs of potential recruits, along with drills for a youth rescue team, outdoor physical exercises, and general rescue drills.