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Fire truck off to Mexico Robert Moreno | Sat, Aug 03 2013 12:00 PM

A surplus of fire engines led the city of National City to donate a fire truck to its sister city Tecate, Mexico

The donation was made as part of the Sister City program, a program agreed to about 30 years ago between the two cities.

Frank Parra, National City’s director of emergency services, said Tecate and National City are a perfect match.

“We have, of course, a large Hispanic demographic in National City,” Parra said. “Prior to Tecate growing we were the similar size and had similar services.”

Parra said the proximity of the two cities also helps the partnership. Tecate is about 39 miles southeast of National City and has a population of almost 65,000 people. National City’s population is an estimated 58,582.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said the city had an excess number of  fire trucks that the city no longer had a use for.

“This is a surplus fire truck that had been part of our reserve unit that was no longer needed,” the mayor said. “So it was going to go out of commission.”

Morrison said National City is in the midst of donating another surplus fire engine to Sweetwater High School for its student fire program.

The donated fire truck was older than the ones that the National City Fire Department currently uses, but was still in good condition, Parra said.

“It’s a well kept, well refurbished engine, running really well,” Parra said. “Their fire chief drove it (and) he loved it.”

Parra said Tecate didn’t ask for a fire truck; he said the donation was National City’s idea and that they knew Tecate could benefit from the donation.

Morrison estimated the fire engine would have made $3,000 to $6,000 at auction because it was a much older truck.

Morrison said the trouble of dealing with the auction for so little money just wasn’t worth it.

National City was also in the position to donate some fire fighting equipment and extra office furniture to Tecate, Morrison said.

This is the first time National City has donated a fire engine to Tecate. About  three years ago the city donated playground equipment to Tecate after National City redeveloped all their parks with new equipment.

The mayor said he is glad to help a community outside of his own.

“Anything that we have that we can share with them we do,” Morrison said.

National City had a surplus of fire engines because they were able to keep their older, outdated fire trucks in reserve while using more updated trucks to service the community.

Parra said that the National City Fire Department is all about public safety, not just in National City but everywhere else.

“We’re all doing the same job,” Parra said. “And as you know fires don’t recognize borders.”

About eight years ago National City adopted Olongapo, Philippines, as a second sister city.

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