Montebello Donates Surplus Fire Engine to Armenia

Kids explore one of Montebello’s fire engines during Fire Service day on May 11. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

MONTEBELLO (EGP News)—A fire engine that has been used for over two decades in Montebello will travel across the world to help save lives in Armenia, a donation approved by the city council.

Council members authorized the fire department to declare the fire engine as “surplus” and then approved the donation of the fire apparatus to Armenia during last week’s council meeting.

“[Armenia] is a country in need of a more modern engine,” said Councilman Jack Hadjinian who facilitated the donation process and secured the funds to cover shipping costs.

The donation came about after the Montebello Fire Department purchased a new fire engine with funds from an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The grant required the fire department to classify one of its older fire engine as surplus, preventing the apparatus from ever being used for firefighting in the United States and freeing it up to be scrapped for metal or donated.

Hadjinian requested that the fire engine be donated to Armenia.

“I saw this as an opportunity to help a fire agency in need,” he said.

The Montebello Fire Department has previously donated surplus fire engines and equipment to Armenia and to Mexico in 2003.

Hadjinian is working with the local branch of the Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Cultural Foundation to secure the funds to ship the fire truck to the country located on the border of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Hadjinian estimates it will cost $3,000 to $5,000.

According to Montebello Fire Chief Dominic Hebert, this is the first time the city has acquired a fire engine with a grant. The last time the city purchased a fire truck was in 2003.

“We’ve had to keep our equipment in service longer than we would have [otherwise] because of budget constraints,” Hebert said.

The new fire engine meets all current safety standards and has a Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS), which is often used in wild fires and which has the capacity extinguish a fire more quickly.

“It provides for a safer environment for the crew to operate off of and for the citizens as well,” Hebert told EGP.

The now retired fire engine had been in use since 1987 and no longer met the department’s needs, the fire chief said. The maintenance needed to keep it in service had become too expensive, he said.

Over 300 residents, many of them children, got a close up look at the new fire fighting equipment during the fire department’s open house last Saturday.

The paperwork for the donation, including passing Customs, still needs to be completed before the donated truck can head to its new home. Hadjinian expects the donated fire truck to arrive in Armenia in a couple of months.


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  1. mtnmedic said:


    Meanwhile, here, my tiny all-volunteer fire department has just ONE structure fire engine, a 1975 Ford Pirsch & Sons that’s all rusted, beat up, leaks significantly much of the time, has mechanical and wiring issues, has a very finicky pump, very little room for equipment, etc. It’s the ONLY structure fire engine in a 120-150 square mile area. Because it’s the only engine in our little city, we can’t even send it out to other towns for mutual aid assistance..

    Our budiget? $4000 every two years and that’s just enough to pay for our fuel, insurance and some modest repairs. We depend almost entirely upon donations to get equipment, training and improvements of any kind. Big departments always seem to also get all the meaningful grants money from the State and the Feds. So we tiny departments keep losing out. We struggle to get by ALL the time but we HAVE to…we’re the ONLY fire service out here for about an hour in any direction.

    And we’re not the ONLY department like this. There are lots of small fire departments and districts who are hurting for newer equipment. A 1987 engine? May not fit Montebello’s needs anymore but would be a HUGE upgrade that will last a LONG time for folks like us out here in the rural areas.

    Helping folks in other countries is noble, but….shouldn’t charity begin at HOME?