Some on Pacific coast have to be their own fire department

With the end of the rainy season comes the start of the fire season, and some expats are realizing that they are on their own.

Some residents in Flamingo had to fight their own fire Sunday. They were successful in keeping the brush fire from reaching buildings. This is a frequent occurrence along the Pacific coast where there are only a few fire stations and communication mixups can be often.

Residents of Flamingo’s area known as northridge complained this week that 911 calls for help went unanswered.

The Cuerpo de Bomberos de Costa Rica has a different story, but all agree that fire stations are few and far between.

Although residents said they made calls to 911, Maricela Salas Delgado, spokesperson for the firemen, said that only two fire calls were received Sunday. One was at 1:34 p.m., and a fire truck was dispatched from the Filadelfia station. At 2:31 p.m. a second call came in but the truck already was en route and reported it had arrived at the Flamingo scene a minute later, she said.

The residents who managed to control the fire with the help of a tourist who was a firemen, said they did not see any truck. The residents said that the fire calls were made around 11 a.m., suggesting that they and the fire department spokesperson may be talking about two different fires.
Ms. Salas said that the station in Filadelfia also responded to a traffic accident and a report of a bee attack Sunday but no second fire.

“We are aware that the response time from the closest stations to Flamingo is long, and for this reason we have put forth a proposed law before the Asamblea Legislativa to obtain more economic income to permit us to open services in distant communities,” she said. “For this reason for the moment there are no plans to open a fire station in the zone that we are discussing.”

The Cuerpo de Bomberos has been removed from the control of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros with the opening of the insurance market. It is now an independent agency.

The problem faced by residents of Tamarindo is shared by others living along the coast. The Flamingo residents estimated that a fire truck coming from Filadelfia would take about an hour to arrive. That is sufficient time for a luxury home to be reduced to ashes.

Ms. Salas also noted that Tamarindo does not have a fire station or truck. That community also has extensive residential and commercial investments.

She identified the bill as No. 17.881, which is in the Comisión de Asuntos Económicos. She said the fire department is trying to get President Laura Chinchilla Miranda to put the measure on the special session agenda so it can be considered by lawmakers before May 1 when the regular session convenes.

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