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Cranston, RI Donates Used Fire Truck to Guatemala

December 15, 2004

CRANSTON, RI — What started as a one-time goodwill gesture has become a pattern of giving, as the city continues to donate old fire trucks and vans to volunteer firefighters in Guatemala for use as much-needed rescue vehicles, according to the Providence Journal newspaper.On Dec. 1, municipal officials from Guatemala were here to accept a 1970s-era ladder truck that the Cranston Fire Department sidelined several years ago. "Here is something that would not pass inspection here, but their need is so great that it is of value to them," Mayor Stephen Laffey said on December 3. "What we no longer consider acceptable for public safety is a jewel to people who have so little."In February 2003, a few weeks after taking office, Laffey made the city´s first donation -- a 1990 rescue truck that was too old for regular use and in need of repairs. At the time, the mayor said he became aware of the desperate need for fire and rescue vehicles in Guatemala through the efforts of former Providence firefighter Gordon Duke.Guatemala´s volunteer firefighters ("bomberos voluntarios") often had no good way of taking sick or injured people to hospitals. Sometimes, transport would be on car hoods or in the beds of pickup trucks.Over the past couple of years, several other Rhode Island communities have responded to Duke´s appeals and donated vehicles to Guatemala. In November 2003, Laffey facilitated the donation of five TransVan buses for use as rescue vehicles. Last February, he traveled to Guatemala to see the donated fire equipment in use.Laffey said that Gladys de Salazar, a councilwoman from Antigua, Guatemala, came to Cranston last week for a small ceremony at the Garden City fire station where she was officially presented the old ladder truck. He said it was fitting that the formal presentation occurred the day before Thanksgiving."It really makes of think of how fortunate we are here, when we consider that fact that something that we are ready to throw away is almost like brand-new to another country," he said.Councilwoman de Salazar said that she is working to have Antigua´s City Council formally recognize Cranston as its sister city, Laffey said. Cranston in turn, he said, is working on a way to disseminate information on Guatemala and display examples of its culture.

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