Last September, Nelson Cruz had an idea about helping the fire department back home in the Dominican Republic.
Back in 2012, while he was with the Texas Rangers, Nelson bought a fire truck and donated it to the Las Matas de Santa Cruz Fire Department, which provides service to tens of thousands of people in the surrounding area.
The fire truck was important, but the community is very poor, and the firefighters didn’t have the equipment they needed to safely and properly do their jobs.
Nelson wondered if there was any surplus equipment that the Seattle Fire Department no longer needed. So, he took a meeting with Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. Turns out, this is just the kind of thing Scoggins used to encourage when he was Chief of the Glendale, California Fire Department.
Over the next few months, as equipment aged out of its useful life for SFD purposes, it was set aside. Before long, Chief Scoggins says a U-Haul-sized truck of “bunking gear” had been collected – boots, pants, jackets, gloves – all equipment that is necessary to safely fight fires.
Recently, Nelson Tweeted out a photo of himself and members of the Las Matas de Santa Cruz Fire Department wearing the boots, coats and helmets.
Last September, Cruz told 710 ESPN’s Shannon Drayer why this project is so close to his heart and so important to his community.
“It made me realize how bad we needed a fire truck when one of my good friends lost his house because we didn’t have any vehicle to provide water to extinguish the fire. Since that day I was committed to find a fire truck and buy it and make sure we have what we need,” said Nelson.
Chief Scoggins has offered to host firefighters from Cruz’s hometown in Seattle so they can train and learn from Seattle firefighters.
“We did this with our sister cities in Mexico while I was in California. It’s a great cross-cultural experience for us and for them. Maybe we’re building to that here,” said Chief Scoggins.