In 1999, José Troncoso had an idea.
It came while the veteran Portland firefighter was in Guadalajara, Mexico. The capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, Guadalajara has been one of Portland’s sister cities since 1983. As part of that sister-city relationship, Portland was donating a fire engine to the Guadalajara Fire Department at the time. Then Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Ed Wilson asked Troncoso, who is Mexican American and bilingual, to accompany him to Mexico as a translator.
As part of their visit, Wilson and Troncoso got to tour Guadalajara’s fire stations and observe the Mexican bomberos — firefighters, in Spanish — at work.
“We noticed that their equipment was way behind ours, and that they were doing some techniques that we had long ago abandoned, being that they were unsafe,” Troncoso told OPB’s Weekend Edition.