Sister city Coral Gables, donates Fire Truck to La Antigua Guatemala
The firefighting capability of La Antigua Guatemala’s Fire Department has greatly improved with the recent gift of a hook-and-ladder truck from Coral Gables, Florida.
Mayor Jim Cason of Coral Gables, an exclusive community just outside Miami, presented the 34-ton vehicle to Antigua Mayor Susana Ascencio and Fire Chief Rafael Arévalo during a ceremony on April 8 outside Antigua City Hall.
The gesture was the latest exchange between the two communities under the Sister Cities program, an effort to increase citizen diplomacy begun in 1956 by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Antigua became Coral Gables’ first Sister City in 1993.
“We are happy to have been able to provide a truck that can change the way that the fire department can combat any sort of fire,” Cason said. “The fire department now has the ability to be successful in extinguishing fires that may occur on residents’ interior patios.”
Coral Gables has also donated training, special thermal helmets, protective gear, hoses and other equipment to the Antigua Fire Department.
“The Fire Department brotherhood between both Sister Cities has been going on since the beginning of this project,” Arévalo said. “They have greatly improved the readiness of our department.”
With a reach of 110 feet, the truck was transported from South Florida’s Homestead Air Reserve Base to Guatemala’s La Aurora International Airport aboard a Boeing C-17 military cargo jet. The vehicle, manufactured in 1985, was part of the Coral Gables fleet for more than 25 years.
Among early Sister Cities exchanges were hundreds of jacaranda trees that Antigua donated to help restore Coral Gables’ green canopy following the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Numerous educational, cultural and civic exchanges have followed.
“The benefits of these events and the exchange of communication between the Sister Cities is immeasurable,” said Nancy Sanabria, member of the Coral Gables International Affairs Coordinating Council. “The friendship and support benefit all the people living in and near the Sister Cities.”
REVUE article by Matt Bokor — photos by Alex Valle