A 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 for.

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 around it.”

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.


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