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Our Opinion: Helping bomberos

April 11, 2001

There are many areas where the United States and Mexico cooperate to one degree or another — border crossing, the war on drugs, water, agriculture and more. One prime example of this cooperation is the bomberos program.

Through the program firefighters — in Spanish called "bomberos" — from all over Mexico receive advanced training in the United States. These firefighters say there are many techniques used in this country that are unfamiliar to them and these techniques help save lives. Our firefighters in Imperial County are willing and able teachers because they have dedicated their lives to saving lives and property.

The bomberos program addresses topics such as investigating a fire, determining its cause and fighting the fire. Participants in the program say the firefighters in Mexico often go into dangerous situations without enough training. The annual bomberos program is helping change that.

Death by fire is a more immediate threat in Mexico than in the United States because of the lack of resources for fighting blazes and because many of the poor neighborhoods are crowded, unprotected by alarms and sprinkler systems and are primed to burn. If the bomberos program can help Mexican firefighters better fight fires, lives will be saved and fewer people will suffer lives of pain and disfigurement. One need not travel in Mexico for long to witness what fire has wrought on the people of the nation.

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Many of us in the Imperial Valley have friends and relatives in Mexico. Others of us have property across the border, and many of us vacation there. It is in our best interest that Mexico's firefighters have the best training and equipment they can get. Such training programs, along with the used equipment supply programs in which our fire department supply still-good equipment to Mexican fire departments, could make the difference in our safety or the safety of our loved ones someday.

We share many things with Mexico. Law enforcement agencies have long shared gear and training techniques with the cross-border counterparts. We are glad to see the same with the firefighters, because the life they save one day could be yours.

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