In east-central Argentina a volunteer fire company formed in 1965 protects more than 380 square miles and more than 180,000 residents. That’s a tall order for any volunteer department. But in Maipu Mendoza, the volunteer fire department has continued to grow to meet the city’s changing needs.
In the mid 1970s, they swapped out their 40-year-old pumper for a new engine and acquired land for the current fire station. Now they have a staff of 98 men and women, with an especially high number of women serving as firefighters, support and cadets.
Another milestone year for Bomberos Voluntarios Maipu was 2016. That’s the year they reintroduced their cadet program, opened a station in their eastern district and formed a dedicated hazmat team.
The 15-member hazmat team trains twice each month in house, which can include other departments and other volunteers not on the hazmat team.
While Maipu Mendoza is in an important winemaking area — it even houses a wine museum — it also has its share of industrial threats that keep the hazmat team on alert.
The team recently had a wildland fire at a gold mine site. And, as posted to Hazmat Nation, the team responded to a nitric acid spill in a factory in March 2020. That call, the team says, was its proudest moment of its short four-year life.
The team and the department receive municipal funding. Much like its humble beginnings starting with a 1936 Ford apparatus, acquiring necessary equipment remains the team’s greatest need. But, how many hazmat teams who have been together much longer would name the same need?