HIDALGO — With southbound traffic stopped, representatives from two nations met Wednesday at the middle of the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.
A 1994 Pierce Lance firetruck rumbled, sirens blaring and lights flashing, toward the middle of the bridge with a group of Mexican officials awaiting the donation. The truck pulled to a stop right before crossing the binational boundary and the driver hopped out.
“I’d give you the keys,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said, “but it doesn’t have keys.”
McAllen gifted the surplus firetruck and equipment to the State of Tamaulipas Civil Protection Regional Center in Reynosa. The truck seats six and can carry 500 gallons of water and is capable of pumping 1,500 gallons a minute at full capacity. Valued at $15,000, the truck has logged 111,717 miles for the city.
Darling said this is the second firetruck exchange he can remember during his four-and-a-half years in office. The exchange is part of an interlocal agreement the two governments approved.
Alejandro Mayne Valdez, director of state heritage for Tamaulipas, said they greatly appreciated the gift. Francisco Galvan Garza, who heads the Texas-Tamaulipas Trade Office, was representing Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca at Wednesday’s event.
“The governor sends his sincere thanks,” Garza said. “This is a wonderful exchange between our two communities.”
Bridge officials halted traffic for 10 minutes — “they stopped it for a half-hour for the abrazo ; didn’t want it to be that long,” one said — while McAllen and Tamaulipas officials mingled, thanking each other for working together.
McAllen Fire Chief Rafael Balderas opened three back hatches of the truck to reveal “bunker gear,” or protective equipment. Tamaulipas officials thanked Darling for the truck and equipment while those crossing the bridge stopped to snap photos on their phones.
“This is of course to help fight fires and to help with safety,” Darling said. “But this is symbolic that no matter what is happening elsewhere in our two countries, the relationship our cities have is strong.”