The tragic death of a woman trapped in a housefire in La Ribera, Baja California Sur, has spurred a former United States fire captain to found a volunteer fire department in the town.
The closest first responders to the August 7 fire that killed María Teresa Lomelí were located in San José del Cabo, over 70 kilometers to the south and almost an hour’s drive away.
This prompted part-time La Ribera resident and former fire captain Steve Alcorn to create a campaign to create a volunteer fire department. Alcorn, from Incline Village, Nevada, fell in love with La Ribera when he first visited in 2000.
He saw that most fires were dealt with by citizens without serious incidents, but Lomeli’s death showed him that response times for structure fires and other incidents were far too long to make a difference in an emergency situation.
The campaign began with the goal of getting La Ribera a fire truck and basic life-saving equipment, but it quickly grew into an international movement to establish a fully functioning volunteer fire department.
The La Ribera Volunteer Fire Department will also provide fire and emergency response service to neighboring communities that lack them.
Alcorn has received support from people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in the form of donations and locals willing to participate in the project.
La Ribera Mayor Juan Carlos Montano has accepted the post of chief of administrator for the department. He says the project has advanced rapidly thanks to cooperation from local government, business and citizens, and the monetary support of donors.
“We have advanced a lot in in just a few short months. We have acquired some life-saving equipment and are already training volunteers,” he told Mexico News Daily.
He said the department will change the lives of the residents of La Ribera and neighboring communities by drastically reducing response times.
“We’ll be able to respond much more quickly to fires and accidents,” he said. “Minutes are lives in these situations.”
The department is still in need of support to acquire personal protection equipment, fire rescue training, equipment maintenance and administrative and logistical support.
Those interested in helping out can donate to the department’s GoFundMe page.
Mexico News Daily