Morongo Donates Fire Engine to College of the Desert

Morongo Fire Engine Donation
Morongo Fire Capt. Ben Kepner (left) delivers a fire engine donated by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians to Cameron Miller, Fire Academy Program Coordinator for the College of the Desert.

CABAZON, CA – The Morongo Band of Mission Indians recently donated a fire engine to the College of the Desert to further enhance instructional programs at its Fire Academy.

The 1998 KME Type 1 fire engine will be used by the college’s Fire Academy students to train and learn new skills, including how to handle fire hoses, basic pump operations and use of emergency tools and equipment. With the Morongo donation, the college will now have six fire engines in its instruction fleet.

“We can’t thank Morongo enough for donating a fire engine that will provide hands-on experience and training to our Fire Academy students as they learn how to safely come to the aid of others during an emergency,” said the college’s Fire Academy Program Coordinator Cameron Miller.

Accredited through the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Fire Academy has provided hundreds of students with the skills to safely perform essential and advanced fire tasks such as rescue operations, auto extrication, fire suppression, fire prevention and fire investigation. Students also learn to use and maintain various firefighting and rescue equipment.

“The College of the Desert is a pivotal force in the local community, and their impressive Fire Academy helps keep local fire departments strong and vibrant,” said Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin. “We are excited to see our donated fire engine as a teaching tool that will help future firefighters protect lives and property across our region.”

Morongo Fire Chief Jason Carrizosa said the fire engine was used by his department to respond to countless emergencies, from car accidents and house fires to the 2020 Apple Fire that charred 33,000 acres in the San Gorgonio Pass. The fire engine also helped battle destructive wildfires across California, such as the Woolsey Fire and Camp Fire, as the Morongo Fire Department routinely deploys personnel and equipment to help fight fires across the state and the nation.

“This fire engine has a been a true workhorse and has a long history of saving lives and homes on our reservation, in the neighboring cities of the Pass, and all over California,” said Carrizosa. “In its new mission, it will continue to protect the public by providing foundational training and experience to aspiring fire crews.”

“We are grateful for Morongo’s donation to strengthen our Fire Academy,” said Chair Rubén AríAztlán Pérez of the college’s Board of Trustees. “This fire engine will be an important tool to facilitate hands-on learning for our students. ”

Over the past decade, Morongo has provided more than $15 million to support local and national non-profit organizations that serve the San Gorgonio Pass and Southern California.