by guest blogger Carole Connolly
Ever since the raging fire in Roca Verde last March I had been meaning to bake something for the firefighters that saved our neighborhood. I wanted to thank them with a gesture that came from the heart. What better qualifies than food? Chocolate cake is food, right?
I wasn’t even sure where the fire department was until one day last week when I parked my car on the street around the corner from the San Jose bus stop. As I gathered up the essentials I would need for my day in the city, locked and exited the car, and hoisted my oversized bag onto my shoulder, I looked up and there it was! The Atenas Fire Station with its gleaming red truck parked alongside the curb, as if it were just another vehicle parked on the street. I stopped and fished out my camera not caring at that point if I missed the bus. There’s always another bus, but you don’t always get to be up close and personal with the bomberos (firefighters) or their truck when it’s in a state of rest. I snapped a photo, turned and ran for the bus, and realized I had never fulfilled my promise to myself to bring a little treat to the firehouse.
I wanted to time it right, so I didn’t walk in with my tray of goodies as they were donning gear, maybe sliding down poles, maybe in the middle of a training session. There is no way to predict any of these things, so I just forged ahead.
All was quiet as I went through the front door of the station. I was greeted pleasantly by an official looking man in a crisp uniform. I explained, in my best Spanish, why I had come. He summoned a handsome young man named Geiner Umaña who showed me to the kitchen area where we chatted as he transferred the cake to a platter. He explained that this is a home, not just a work-place. There are five firefighters on duty at any given time for twenty-four hour shifts. They get twenty-four hours off and then come back for another session.
The place was immaculate, emergency equipment in place and ready to go! When I asked Geiner about the emergency situations for which they were responsible, his face softened and he said they had an animal rescue pick-up truck. Yes, they do rescue cats stuck in trees!
One of the challenges they are faced with in the dry season when most of the fires occur, is the lack of fire hydrants. Gated communities such as Vista Atenas, Roca Verde, and Pica Flora must rely on the water from swimming pools and creeks. The community known as Lomas del Paraiso did install fire hydrants. To date, they have not been pressed into service, but it is comforting to know they are there at the ready.
I was impressed by the professionalism and the warmth with which I was received. The community of Atenas is in good hands when it comes to the fire department.