Local North Whatcom Fire & Rescue commissioner John Crawford, left, turns over to Moi Castellon, of Firefighters Across Borders, a surplused ambulance that will be sent to a town in Mexico for use. (Courtesy photo)

John Crawford of NWF&R makes it happen

WHATCOM ­— It’s a bit of a complicated year-long story, but the outcome is that a Mexican town is benefiting from some local fire equipment donations.
This began in March 2020 when the commissioners of North Whatcom Fire & Rescue at a board meeting surplused four ambulances that were at the end of their useful life span by U.S. regulations.
At the meeting commissioner John Crawford asked his four colleagues if he could reach out to the nonprofit Firefighters Crossing Borders and see about interest in one of the ambulances, a 1994 Ford.
FCB takes donations in the fire service such as vehicles, firefighter protective clothing, tools, etc., and in turn reaches out to foreign fire departments, primarily in Mexico, and gives away the donated items.  
Crawford contacted Moi Castellon, CEO of Firefighters Crossing Borders.  With the COVID pandemic just hitting full force at the time, the process of assessing the ambulance and associated gear was slow. A lot of pictures, emails and texts were exchanged.
North Whatcom also had declared surplus full sets of protective clothing no longer acceptable in the United States, but usable in Mexico.  
Crawford, who is a Bellingham International Airport firefighter, also knew that the Port of Bellingham department had surplused tools that could be made available, and they were approved as a donation as well.  
Crawford, with the help of his family and North Whatcom staff, folded, stacked and stuffed the ambulance full of donated equipment. The transfer of it all took place in late April 2020. Crawford drove the ambulance to the Lynnwood Fire Department and turned it over to Moi Castellon, who works for South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue.  
Then in June 2020, the NWFR board also declared surplus two pumper trucks. Commissioner Rich Bosman asked Crawford if FFCB might be interested in obtaining these items, one a 1988 Pierce pumper and the other a 1990 Simon Duplex aerial platform engine. It turned out that FFCB was interested and the process repeated.
This time, another batch of used gear from the Bellingham Fire Department was placed on board. BFD captain Scott Bartok had been in contact with the nonprofit and found that this would be an easy route for getting his donated gear to the right people. Again Crawford, his family and NWFR staff folded, stacked and stuffed both of the donated fire trucks, and Crawford again transferred them to Moi in Lynnwood.  
In July 2020 the government of Union De Tula, a central-western Mexico town, presented a recognition certificate to North Whatcom Fire & Rescue for its useful donation helping the city of Bomberos (Spanish for “firemen”) fulfill its mission.  
On Feb. 26, 2021, Crawford received a photo from Castellon notifying that Union De Tula had just delivered a baby boy in the donated ambulance from North Whatcom.