By RAY QUIROGA
Port Isabel-South Padre PRESS
Given the events in Boston this past Monday, have you asked yourself just how far would you go for your neighbor or your community?
There’s a groups of individuals right here in Port Isabel that is willing to surrender life and limb to save not only your life but your property as well, and they’re willing to do it at a moment’s notice at no monetary cost. They are the Port Isabel Volunteer Fire Department (PIVFD).
But the service is not without its costs which come mostly in the form of equipment that takes a beating and is mandated to be periodically replaced.
To help with those costs, the PIVFD will be hosting its 11th Annual PIVFD/Bob Harris Memorial Golf Tournament on April 27 at the South Padre Island Golf Course in Laguna Vista.
For over 73 years, the PIVFD has been an integral part in fire support, prevention and rescue for the City of Port Isabel and surrounding communities. The PIVFD rely heavily on donations and fund-raisers to raise funds for equipment and training material. The tournament is one of those fund-raisers held in remembrance of Fire Marshal Robert Harris who was a victim of the tragic collapse of the Queen Isabella Causeway 11 years ago. According to PIVFD Senior Firefighter John Sandoval, Harris was responding to a then unknown call when, en route on the causeway, his vehicle fell into a gap on the bridge.
While all but one current member of the department can say they personally knew Harris when he was living, the current group tries to live by his example on a daily basis.
Sandoval, a six-year veteran of the department and a full time code enforcement officer for the city, said the department currently boasts about 15 volunteers who are required to attend a weekly meeting and answer, “the call,” at any time of the week, day or hour. “We’re a nonprofit and we’re all volunteers. It’s a pretty big thing to ask of people that they be free 365 days out of the year because you never know what’s going to happen,” Sandoval said.
For Port Isabel native Greg Ruiz, 25, firefighting is in his blood. “Two of my uncles were firefighters and one even got hurt on his way to the Island responding to a call,” he explained.
Still in high school, 19-year-old Luis Perez aspires to be a professional firefighter one day and even hopes to make it a course of study when he enters college.
“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I’m even going to make it my major when I go to college,” Perez said.
The tournament is a four-man scramble and prizes will be awarded for first through third place finishers, longest drive, straightest drive, hole in one.
The registration fee is $65 per person or $260 for an entire team and it includes green fee, cart, lunch and drinks at the event. Sponsorships are also available and more information can be obtained by calling Fire Marshal Rodrigo Garcia at (956) 943-3523 or Daniel Marchan at (956) 943-1242.