One stuck firetruck highlights San Pedro’s needs for more firefighting options

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San Pedro's firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco's Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji's restaurant on Thursday night. Bringing the right equipment for the right fire is key.
San Pedro’s firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco’s Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji’s restaurant on Thursday night. Bringing the right equipment for the right fire is key. (Photos by Melina Weissman)
San Pedro's firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco's Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji's restaurant on Thursday night.
San Pedro’s firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco’s Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji’s restaurant on Thursday night.

A fire at Aji’s Tapa Bar & Restaurant‘s palapa bar on North Ambergris Caye, Thursday night, brought out the San Pedro firetruck. It got stuck in the sand in front of Paco’s Tiki Bar, just north of Aji’s, as it tried to find access to the waterfront eatery.

The restaurant was already repairing the fire damage on Friday and restaurant operation has not been halted by the fire, according to a neighbor.

The operation of the firetruck, however, was halted in the sand until Saturday morning. The truck was seen heading south for home around 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Bringing the right equipment to the right fire is important — but everyone knows that the options are limited to two trucks for the San Pedro Fire Station, the pumper and the big wagon (seen here).

Ironically, my friend and a San Pedro civic leader Amanda Syme recently relayed a timely and cost-efficient suggestion for bolstering the fire department’s options during a Facebook conversation. She said this suggestion came up in a recent Emergency Management meeting.

Small pumper can be set up quickly to fight fires while waiting for the fire department to arrive.
Small pumper can be set up quickly to fight fires while waiting for the fire department to arrive.

Said Amanda: “On the island, a natural water source is typically nearby and other areas often have swimming pools. The pump (at left) that was used to pump water from the sea helped immensely and could provide two hoses. The cost of the pump is only $15K BZD.

“If there were a number of these distributed around the island they could certainly assist with containing a fire whilst awaiting the fire department. Most definitely a serious purchase consideration for some of the resorts that can maintain and service the pumps and have them in readiness. And perhaps hotel staff could be trained to use them. The pump can be mounted on a trailer that can be pulled by a golf cart.”

Makes sense to me. Most people would rather be pulling a small pumper around than pulling a big old firetruck out of the sand.

What do you think?

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17 thoughts on “One stuck firetruck highlights San Pedro’s needs for more firefighting options

    Paul Baudry said:
    July 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

    A great idea! Very economical and affordable. Learning how to operate this equipment is easy too.

    Like

      Linda Young said:
      July 2, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Tell me more about the AJI fire. We stay in those casitas every year and love the restaurant. Hope no one was hurt. Thanks for all your news coverage!

      Like

        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        July 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

        I am told the palapa roof in the bar area caught fire. It is now being replaced by aluminum. No injuries and the restaurant has resumed operation. A blip in operations but no disaster. That’s good news. Thank you.

        Like

    Diane Klumb said:
    July 2, 2016 at 10:58 am

    A Belizean friend of mine suggested a volunteer fire department trained by the professionals with access to a series of substations (little bodegas with seawater pumps and hoses and other equipment) strung along the length of the island every few miles to speed response time…these pumps would be perfect. Some serious fundraising could make it happen…

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I like the combination of trained volunteers and readily accessible pumps! Thanks, Diane.

      Like

    Pam Preston said:
    July 2, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    A perfect potential project for the newly-chartered
    Rotary Club of Belize, Ambergris Caye!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 2, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      I must completely agree, Pam!

      Like

        Pam Preston said:
        July 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

        If you know a member that is willing to propose and scope it, I (I’m the Chair of the Service Projects Committee) can help them make it happen.

        Like

    Wayne McCrae said:
    July 2, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    I know pumps are expensive but seriously should be able to bring them in for emergency services without duty and Alot less than 15k.

    Like

      Pam Preston said:
      July 2, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      yes, or get them donated from a source in the states that also offers training… 🙂

      Like

        Jodie harnish said:
        July 3, 2016 at 5:16 am

        You also have numerous retired firefighters on the Island that would and have offered training. Firefighters here though need to accept, listen and learn from those that have been highly trained in other parts of the world. New equipment won’t help if not used and maintained properly

        Like

        Pam Preston said:
        July 3, 2016 at 12:25 pm

        you are totally right, Jodie!

        Like

    […] Caye, with the San Pedro LobsterFest, the weeklong feast of Saint Peter, a huge downtown fire, and a firetruck getting stuck in sand responding to another fire, what’s a bunch of blokes to do but grab a boat and cruise on over […]

    Like

    Matt said:
    July 6, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I’m a volunteer fire fighter here in the states, every year the federal government gives grants to fire departments to replace older apparatus, the old trucks can not be sold to another fire department in the US so in many cases these decent useable trucks are sold for parts or scrapped, this could be good for Belize. The disposal of the used equipment is up to the individual fire departments, many of them would probably just donate it, the only problem would be getting it there.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 6, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Very interesting, Matt. Any idea how Belize might learn of the availability of decommissioned trucks?

      Getting it here can be challenging. A fellow last year snared two emergency vehicles from the states, raised funds to bring them to the island ….and kind of went AWOL.

      Hope somebody who reads this has some ideas! If it helps — we have narrow streets with very tight turns and a limited water supply on land. Our tallest buildings are five stories but they are still fairly rare — most are two and three.

      Thanks for the ideas!

      Like

    Matt said:
    July 6, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    If someone in Belize would be willing to make up a flyer or email to distribute to fire depts in the US asking for equipment donations you would probably get flooded with used equipment, Maybe the Belize government could help out and get some cargo containers and waive any tariffs.
    My department has been applying for these grants and I have wondered about doing this if we get a grant, I would hate to see one of our well maintained trucks go to waste when they could be used there. Most of the trucks being decommissioned now would late 80s or 90s and could be anything from a pick up truck mini pumper to a big tanker.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 6, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Great idea, Matt. Let me pass on this information to people who know more about these things than I do and see if we can’t generate some interest! Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

      Like

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