Seventeen Bomberos (firefighters) from Mexico and South America spent the week of Oct. 3 learning firefighter techniques that they could use in their home community as part of the Santa Clara County Fire Chiefs’ Association’s (SCCFCA) 2010 Bombero program.
The Bomberos attended an opening ceremony at Central County Occupational Center (CCOC) on Oct. 4 that was attended by more than 20 Fire Chiefs and fire department personnel from throughout Santa Clara County. The San Jose Fire Department’s (SJFD) new Fire Chief, William McDonald, welcomed the “brothers and sisters in fire service” and stated that all firefighters, no matter where they are from, have a common goal. “We all love the fire service and helping others.”
Originally, 22 Bomberos were supposed to take part in the week of training, but five of those selected had passport paperwork that did not clear in time for the trip to San Jose. Manual Alberto Maza Sanchez, a Bombero from Oaxaca, Mexico said that he really enjoyed the week of training and learned a lot of new skills to take back to his hometown. This is the third time he has been selected to participate in the Bombero Program
The Bombero Program began in 1972 as a way to promote fellowship within the International Fire Service and to give firefighters ways to improve their firefighting techniques in their home countries. Two Bomberos from each participating international city were chosen to participate in this year’s program by the Mexican Fire Chief’s Association. Eight local Santa Clara County fire departments, associations and CCOC sponsored the Bomberos for $350 through the Los Bomberos of Northern California “Adopt a Bombero” program.
“In the world of firefighters, there are no borders,” Bombero Program Advisor Phil Gonzalez, said.
Training topics for the week were based on requests by the visiting Bomberos, Gonzalez said. Bomberos were trained by State Certified Instructors in firefighting on a variety of subjects, including the incident command system, vehicle extrication and disaster preparedness. They were also shown how to use various firefighter apparatuses that may be useful in their home country and ended the week by taking a trip to view the San Francisco Fire Department’s Fire Boat. The training was a team effort among fire departments throughout the county, with each department providing personnel and/or equipment for the intensive week of training. Bomberos were also visited at the fire stations by local council members and community members.
“It has been a really good week, and I’m learning many new techniques and new rules for firefighters,” Sanchez said. He added that he was able to ride along on many calls — mostly medical — as an observer. Gonzalez said that on the first day of their visit, Oct. 3, several of the Bomberos rode along and observed a multiple alarm structure fire which required several fire departments assistance in putting out.
The Bombero Program alternates between cities in Northern and Southern California each year, and the program continues to be successful because firefighters from both countries see that there is a need for this type of program, Gonzalez said. Bomberos will receive a Certificate of Completion from the SCCFCA at a closing ceremony dinner for participating and completing the 2010 Bombero Program before flying back to their home communities on Oct. 9.
Bombero Program Advisor Phil Gonzalez
Visiting Bombero Manual Alberto Maza Sanchez
Bombero Program Planning Meeting
Bombero Program Opening Ceremony