This afternoon Mayor A. George Pradel held a meet and greet in his conference room for Cancún Fire Chief Toma Hurtado in order to discuss the fire truck donation that Naperville is making to resort city in Mexico.
Flanked by Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis, Chief of the Tri-State Fire Protection District Jack Mancione, other members of the Naperville Fire Department and City Manager Doug Krieger, Hurtado’s enthusiasm to welcome the 1991 emergency vehicle south of the border was sparked with thumbs up gratitude.
In the Mexican community where seven fire stations and 24 firefighters make some 10,000 calls a year, Hurtado said that in addition to fires, many of the calls in Cancún are to rescue snakes, monkeys in trees and “sometimes crocodiles.”
During the discussion, Hurtado learned that other communities including Big Rock and Tri-State Fire Protection District had donated surplus equipment and other items to help outfit the 135-ft. pre-piped latter truck, too. The Tri-State Fire Protection District serves parts of Darien, Willowbrook, Burr Ridge, Willow Springs, and unincorporated DuPage County.
Hurtado explained that the process to drive nearly 1,400 miles to Cancún and to receive the firetruck through customs would begin at the end of March and run into early April. Thanks to know-how of Rotary International, the equipment will be received where it not only will benefit citizens and tourists in Cancún, but also other communities such as Naperville’s Sister City, Patzcuaro, Mexico.
“Rotary International will be a big help,” said Hurtado. “I learned Rotary has had lots of experience clearing through customs.”
“The truck is ready to go,” Puknaitis said. “The engine’s been checked, the tires… and it has a full tank of gas—but a tank of gas will only get you about 200 miles.”
Mindful of Naperville’s Sister City connection in Patzcuaro, Hurtado expressed interest in having Cancún become a Sister City, too.
Mayor Pradel invited Hurtado, who is staying in Chicago this week, to return to Naperville Tuesday evening to update the City Council with the progress of this exchange.
The City Council meeting begins at 7PM Tues., March 3, in City Council Chambers. The public is welcome. City Council Chambers is located in the Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St. The meeting also will be broadcast on local cable public government access television.
A brief overview
The City of Naperville’s City Council voted unanimously in favor of donating a retired Fire Department ladder truck to the City of Cancún, México, during their meeting on October 21, 2014.
The donation comes after officials from the resort city approached the Naperville Fire Department. The ladder truck, designated 321T, is a 23-year-old vehicle that was retired from service in Naperville in 2012.
Since that time, the City had attempted and failed to sell the vehicle through brokerage and auction services. At the same time, Cancún officials approached the City requesting a donation of the truck for use in the city’s Hotel Zone, which is populated with high-rise hotels.
“The overall value of donating this vehicle to a country that could use it immediately to keep citizens and tourists safe far outweighs any small monetary receipt,” Puknaitis said in an earlier written statement.
“This decision also aligns with the goals and efforts of our Sister Cities delegation and will carry on the City of Naperville’s legacy of assisting others in need.”
All transportation expenses are being covered by the City of Cancún and the Municipality of Benito Juarez of the State of Quintana Roo, México.
Did you know?
Naperville currently embraces two Sister Cities: Nitra, Slovakia, since 1993; and Patzcuaro, Mexico, since 2010. Naperville will host the 2015 State Sister Cities Convention April 17-18, with a special cultural arts performance expo at the North Central College Fine Art Center at 8PM on Sat., April 17. For info, call (630) 355-9404.