Monday, June 17, 2024

Fire Truck for Caye Caulker arrives in the country; delivery spearhead by the late James York III


On Monday, July 11th, a UAF C17 aircraft of the United States (U.S.) Air Force touched down at the Philip Goldson International Airport on the mainland with a fire truck for the island of Caye Caulker. The effort was spearheaded by a longtime friend of the island and Belize, James York III, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. His children, Holly Monast, Hannah York, and Derek York took over the project and followed with the arrangements to get the firetruck to Belize via the Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program.

The Caye Caulker Village Council purchased the fire truck, and when it gets to Caye Caulker, it will be stationed on the island’s northern side. Caye Caulker Chairlady was very happy to see the fire engine delivered. On behalf of Hicaqueños, she thanked the late York and his family for facilitating and ensuring the much-needed truck arrived in Belize. The Chairlady also acknowledged the Denton Program, the U.S. Embassy in Belize, and the Office of the Prime Minister for the support.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Belize, this is the first of two flights to be made by the Denton Program to transport emergency vehicles to the country. Charge d’ Affaires, a.i. Leyla Moses-Ones said, “We know the speed and capability of firefighters during an emergency can prevent and mitigate the loss of life, property, and natural resources. Thanks to the goodwill of the American people and the close cooperation between our two countries, this fire truck to the northern island of Caye Caulker will increase the Fire Department’s emergency readiness, benefitting more than 5,000 people.” The Denton Humanitarian Assistance Program is a multi-agency effort between the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. It affords U.S.-based non-governmental organizations cost-free transportation of humanitarian goods and cargo on U.S. military carriers to countries in need.

James York III

York was a former firefighter from Columbus, Ohio, USA, who, after visiting Caye Caulker in 2013, discovered that the fire station needed a proper fire truck. After establishing a good relationship with fire chief Miguel Matus, arrangements along with his church, Beechwold Christian, started for the acquiring and donation of a truck. A couple of years later, the idea materialized, and York traveled to Caye Caulker in November 2017 to deliver the first fire truck. This was the beginning of a regular occurrence. Since then, York has arranged the delivery of other trucks to places like San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, and other parts of Belize like Ladyville north of Belize City and as far as Punta Gorda Town in the southern Toledo District.

Battle with COVID-19

York was happy to be part of the efforts to provide much-needed emergency equipment to Belize communities. During the arrangement for the fire truck delivery earlier this year, York fell ill with the COVID-19 virus. The disease, which caused the world to shut down for the most part in 2020, affected his health severely. York could not properly recover and passed away in March of this year due to COVID-19 complications. York will be forever remembered for his generosity and contribution to the Belizean communities he helped.

James York III

This is the second truck Caye Caulker has received via this united effort involving American communities and agencies like the U.S. Air Force via the Denton Program.  York was intensely interested in encouraging others to join him in his mission to ensure Belizean communities were safer with adequate resources in their local fire departments.


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