City of Presidio hopes to donate used trucks to Ojinaga fire department

PRESIDIO — Presidio City Council on Monday discussed the possibility of sending two broken-down brush trucks formerly used by the Presidio Volunteer Fire Department across the bridge for a second life as fleet vehicles for Bomberos Voluntarios de Ojinaga. Making a cross-border vehicle donation is legally thorny, so the council decided to declare Brush Truck 51 and 52 surplus, and investigate the process needed to send the vehicles to Ojinaga. 

The proposed donation is meant as a gesture of friendship between the two departments, who have worked closely together for many years. “We’re the closest backup for each other,” explained Presidio Fire Chief Saul Pardo Jr. 

Because Ojinaga is much larger than Presidio, it’s often Presidio that requests assistance first, but the international relationship is designed to go both ways. When a fire on either side gets out of hand, the mayor of one city calls the other and relays the message to the fire department. “Usually I’ll call the chief in Ojinaga, and tell him that I’m going to request his help through the mayor. That way his guys are ready,” Pardo explained. 

In the spring of 2021, Bomberos Voluntarios de Ojinaga helped respond to a large brushfire in Redford. Their engine broke down on the way home, and had to be left in the U.S. overnight. Presidio Mayor John Ferguson helped raise $2,500 to help the engine get back over the bridge. “Let’s show our debt of gratitude to the hard work and sacrifice that Ojinaga has made to help Presidio by returning the favor somehow,” he implored. 

The two broken-down vehicles that the city hopes to donate are brush trucks, which are smaller than your typical engine. “They’re mainly for brush fires,” Pardo explained. “Most of them are 4×4, they can go anywhere, but their hoses are not as long.” Because Ojinaga is larger and has better access to low-cost auto repair, it’s likely that the trucks will find their way onto the street faster there than if the City of Presidio tried to repurpose them in the U.S. 

The potential truck donation is just another example of solidarity between the two departments. “We work together, we train together,” Pardo said. “If a big event happens, we rely on each other. I think we’re just going to keep growing.”