A fire engine that has been used for over two decades in Montebello will travel across the world to help save lives in Armenia, a donation approved by the city council.
Council members authorized the fire department to declare the fire engine as “surplus” and then approved the donation of the fire apparatus to Armenia during last week’s council meeting.
“[Armenia] is a country in need of a more modern engine,” said Councilman Jack Hadjinian who facilitated the donation process and secured the funds to cover shipping costs.
The donation came about after the Montebello Fire Department purchased a new fire engine with funds from an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The grant required the fire department to classify one of its older fire engine as surplus, preventing the apparatus from ever being used for firefighting in the United States and freeing it up to be scrapped for metal or donated.
Hadjinian requested that the fire engine be donated to Armenia.
“I saw this as an opportunity to help a fire agency in need,” he said.
The Montebello Fire Department has previously donated surplus fire engines and equipment to Armenia and to Mexico in 2003.
Hadjinian is working with the local branch of the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Cultural Foundation to secure the funds to ship the fire truck to the country located on the border of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Hadjinian estimates it will cost $3,000 to $5,000.
According to Montebello Fire Chief Dominic Hebert, this is the first time the city has acquired a fire engine with a grant. The last time the city purchased a fire truck was in 2003.
“We’ve had to keep our equipment in service longer than we would have [otherwise] because of budget constraints,” Hebert said.
The new fire engine meets all current safety standards and has a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS), which is often used in wild fires and which has the capacity extinguish a fire more quickly.
“It provides for a safer environment for the crew to operate off of and for the citizens as well,” Hebert told EGP.
The now retired fire engine had been in use since 1987 and no longer met the department’s needs, the fire chief said. The maintenance needed to keep it in service had become too expensive, he said.
Over 300 residents, many of them children, got a close up look at the new fire fighting equipment during the fire department’s open house last Saturday.
The paperwork for the donation, including passing Customs, still needs to be completed before the donated truck can head to its new home. Hadjinian expects the donated fire truck to arrive in Armenia in a couple of months.