Beach Town Creates Its Own Fire Department
By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
November 22, 2018
After two fires at Posada Conception in Baja California,
the beach dwellers decided it was time to take matters into
their own hands and form a fire department.
They had nothing but garden hoses to start with, and a
questionable water supply, especially in the summer.
Both the fires, which wiped out a dozen homes in our little
beach community, were started with the faulty handling of
propane gas used for heating hot water or running refrigerators.
Meetings were held, and some leaders were chosen to set
up fire teams. Fundraising would be a necessary part of
the fire department because even in Mexico, nothing is free.
An old boat trailer was donated, but its tires were rotten
from sitting out in the sun too long. Our contribution was
bringing down new tires, and Dave Nannini from Dave’s
Tire World (now CenCal Tire World) in Merced was very generous
with a low price once he found out what they would be used
Someone on the committee got a price on a 1,000 gallon
“pella” or rooftop water tank which was loaded
on the trailer, and in good keeping with tradition, was
painted fire engine red.
Some fire departments in California and other places had
firemen outfits which were not being used and donated them
to the new Posada Fire Department.
Craigslist was used to look for a fire hose, and a fire
alarm was purchased used, and hooked up to a battery in
the center of our park.
Someone had a Honda pump they weren’t using and it
got bolted down to the trailer frame, and the first “fire
trials” were held. Half the fire teams were women,
and for some reason no one realized the power of the water
in the hose when the pump kicked in, and it was all a gal
could do just holding on to the fighting end.
Air horns like the kind used on boats were passed out to
the different parts of the beach and signals were given
for fires. Somehow one of the kids in the park got a hold
of one of the horns and set it off causing a hell of a problem.
In the end it was good practice because it showed how badly
we were organized.
We had to learn about fire fighting technique from a fireman
who was living in Posada. He said, “You don’t
try to put out a fire in a house which is already going
to burn down anyway. You try to save the houses which are
Schedules were posted on which fire team was on duty from
one day to the next and most of the members on the teams
were very good about showing up for the training sessions.
Then we waiting for the next fire. … And we waited.
… And we waited.
Then the management of the beach park decided it needed
a new water truck because loads of fresh water had to be
trucked to our area almost daily. The park management said,
“Why don’t you take the old water truck with
several thousands of gallons of water as well as a good
pump, and use it for your fire truck?”
“Good idea” seemed to be the reaction of the
Posada Fire Department but we haven’t had a fire practice
since. The teams disappeared, and the old red fire trailer
was dismantled and used for some other purpose.
Fortunately, there hasn’t been another fire and we
are happy about that because something was lost when the
old red fire trailer stopped being used.
It wouldn’t have been nearly as effective at putting
out a fire, but it somehow seemed to hold everyone together
in a way that the big water truck doesn’t do.
There’s a lesson in this story and it shows how everything
newer isn’t necessarily better. It kind of reminds
us when all the communities had volunteer fire departments,
and how important they were in keeping the local people
working together for a common cause.
We miss that.