Three Palo Alto fire engines heading for Oaxaca

One engine to be named for retired Fire Chief Nick Marinaro, Oaxacan chief announces

Some firefighters in Oaxaca, Mexico, will soon jump on El Marinaro to race to a fire.

That will be the new designation for one of three older fire engines being transferred to Oaxaca in a bargain sale by the City of Palo Alto. The engines, each with more than 20 years of service in Palo Alto, have been replaced by newer vehicles. Oaxaca is Palo Alto's second "Sister City" under a Neighbors Abroad program, a relationship dating from 1964.

In a Sept. 1 ceremony at Palo Alto Station 6 on the Stanford University campus, Fire Chief Manuel A. Maza Sanchez through a translator thanked Palo Alto for the three engines and past equipment and vehicle donations. He said they will benefit not just the fire department but the citizens of Oaxaca.

"Even though there's a language barrier, there is no barrier of service and dedication to saving lives," Chief Maza said.

One earlier donation is of a paramedics van that is named for the late Joe Carleton, a Palo Altan who was a member of the Neighbors Abroad and the Palo Alto Kiwanis Club, which has actively supported the linkage of the two cities. The Palo Alto Rotary Cub also has been involved in vehicle transfer. About two dozen lined the back of the room at the fire station.

Carleton was personally active in arranging an earlier transfer of a fire engine and paramedics van. In the early 1970s Carleton successfully lobbied city officials to create the Fire Department's paramedics service after a five-part series of articles in the Palo Alto Times disclosed shortcomings in the private ambulance service responses at the time.

Santa Clara County also is transferring two ambulances to Oaxaca.

Deputy Fire Chief Roger Bloom of Palo Alto said assorted equipment will go along with the three engines, including a "Jaws of Life" hydraulic device that pries open wrecked vehicles and collapsed structures.

Interim Fire Chief Dennis Burns, who also is Palo Alto's police chief, said "this complicated exchange" would not be possible without the collaboration of the various organizations and individuals within the city staff and in the community.

"I am amazed at how many people help us navigate the logistical challenges to transport three large fire engines 2,000 miles to Oaxaca," he said.

The three engines are 1987 Pierce Fire Pumper vehicles that were replaced in 2009 after 22 years of service. Bloom said the three vehicles were appraised at $10,000 each for resale value, but are being sold to Oaxaca for $20,000, the amount authorized by the Mexican government. They will be trucked to Oaxaca and are expected to arrive in late September. Bloom said. Neighbors Abroad is handling the detailed documents relating to the sale and arranging shipment.

Earlier vehicles and equipment donated include a 105-foot aerial ladder trucks, a Crown pumper truck, two ambulances, a Ford "wildland patrol truck," a Jaws of Life device and miscellaneous firefighting and medical equipment.

Oaxaca has three fire stations, 165 firefighters and 26 vehicles.

Other Sister Cities include Palo, Leyte, The Philippines in 1963; Enschede, The Netherlands, in 1980; Linkoping, Sweden, in 1987; Albi, France, in 1994; and Tsuchiura, Japan, in 2009.

When Oaxaca was designated a Sister City in 1964 its population and Palo Alto's were both about 56,000. Since then Palo Alto has grown by less than 10,000 residents while Oaxaca now has about 1.5 million persons.

A slide show prepared by Kiwanis Club member Bob Wenzlau showed images of Oaxaca and the earlier vehicles donated, including the Joe Carleton ambulance van.

One image showed a small pickup truck fully engulfed in flames on a Oaxacan thoroughfare.

"Good save," a Palo Alto firefighter quipped good naturedly.

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Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 6, 2010 at 5:44 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Palo Alto has given it's old fire engines to Oaxaca for decades. They are probably better equipped now than most other cities in Mexico.

How about sending the next batch to another 3rd world sister city. One that could use the help even more than Oaxaca.

Sister City Palo, Leyte, Philippines

Like this comment
Posted by anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2010 at 8:27 pm

$10,000 for a fire truck? where can I get one?

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm

"$10,000 for a fire truck? where can I get one?"

Many years ago the owner of "Harry's Hofbrau" in Redwood City got a Palo Alto used fire truck. Don't know how, or even if "Harry's Hofbrau" still exists, but here's a lead for you if you really want to get one.

Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm

"Palo Alto has given it's old fire engines to Oaxaca for decades." Oaxaca probably sells them and makes a profit!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of University South
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Hey Outside Observer: unfortunately of all the sister cities, Oaxaca is the only one where the Engines can be driven to on one long road trip. It helps keeps cost low all around.

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2010 at 11:29 pm


True, you can't drive one to the Philippines, but the Philippine government would provide for the shipping and would be very grateful for the equipment.

BTW, I've been in Palo. That is why I know it is a Palo Alto sister city. I can attest to the need.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 7, 2010 at 10:39 am

Given the ever-growing budget problems of the city government, it's time to sell these vehicles to a reseller, and return the funds to the city budget.

This is another example of how poorly managed the city is.

Like this comment
Posted by opus
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The city bought the engines for $200,000+ and now appraises them at $10,000? No wonder the city has had a deficit budget for the last ten years. At least sell them to make up for the same amount of dollars the city is paying on property taxes and remodel for the city managers house.

Like this comment
Posted by Public safety
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 8, 2010 at 12:33 am

That appraisal is correct, some of the new Paramedic trucks have sticker prices of 175,000 but in a few years will be worth no more then scrap metal. Unlike personal vehicles Emergency service vehicles have little to no use outside of serving the public, and while maintained religiously, see abuse at an unprecedented level. In other words just before we let a rig go, or a department lets an engine go, its about to fall to pieces. I've driven (scarily enough in recent days) a Ford ambulance around Santa Clara county with over 400,000+ miles on it, and three rebuilds, next rebuild and its off to Mexico. While its a nice gesture and for a group of people with nothing its better then what they have or don't have, these vehicles are so much of a pain sometimes you can't even give them away.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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