Two Spokane firetrucks have been saved from the scrap pile by a decision to donate them to volunteer fire departments in Guatemala.
The 1977 pumpers manufactured by American LaFrance haven’t been in service in Spokane for a couple of years, and attempts to find departments to buy them were unsuccessful.
The department did, however, get offers to buy both trucks for about $5,000 to scrap them or use them in parades or advertising. Fire Chief Bobby Williams said the department would be willing to sell them for other purposes, but not for such a low price.
“Fire protection is important to communities, no matter if it’s in our community or another community,” Williams said.
Art Nichols, division chief of facilities and logistics, said the connection to the Volunteer Fire Department of Guatemala was made through Hearts in Motion, a nonprofit that provides firefighting training resources to Central America. The Guatemalan department will pay $1 each for the trucks.
Nichols said three Guatemalan firefighters will fly to Spokane next week. They’ll stay in town for about a week and will stay with Spokane County Fire District No. 3 Chief Bruce Holloway, who is fluent in Spanish. They’ll then drive the trucks to Los Angeles, where the trucks will be shipped the rest of the way.
Holloway, who has worked with Hearts in Motion and trained firefighters in Guatemala, will train the three firefighters in wildland firefighting while they’re in Spokane. He praised the city for approving the donation.
“I know that they’ll get some benefit from it,” he said.
The Spokane City Council voted 6-1 earlier this month to accept the sale for $1 each.
Councilman Bob Apple said the city should have accepted one of the other offers for scrap or to use them in parades.
“I don’t gift public money,” Apple said. “I don’t care whether or not they choose to scrap them.”
Other council members said they trusted the advice they received from city attorneys and that they preferred the trucks to remain in firefighting service.
“I can’t justify (scrapping them) when we can find a country that can use them,” Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said.