This was expressed excited Aquilino Luis Padrón Barro, member of the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution (ACRC), recalling those first months of 1959 when he was assigned the headquarters of the Matanzas Fire Department, now converted into a museum of living category and the only one of its kind that is preserved in the world, because it treasures the history of the property and, at the same time, is the permanent seat of the provincial Fire Command.
During the interview given to Radio 26 on the occasion of the usual National Fire Protection Week and celebrated on May 18 International Museum Day, the veteran protagonist of the clandestine struggle and against bandits, founder of the National Revolutionary Militias , participant in the deed of Giron and internationalist combatant, proudly evokes his experience as fire chief, one of the facets included in the intense patriotic career of this Matanzas, who at 88 years of age retains a prodigious memory.
“After the Revolution triumphed, in the first months of 1959, I was summoned by the July 26 Movement to pass an intensive course in Havana to extinguish fires and address. At the end of this training with the maximum score I am assigned by the Headquarters of the Fire Department, which I fulfilled with full responsibility until mid-April 1961 when I joined to fight in the deed of Girón…
“They were very difficult years in Matanzas and in the country. The counterrevolutionary bands did not give us respite, almost every day we had to face sabotage, like burning cane, fires in factories, schools and neighborhoods … The members of the Fire Department were very brave and heroic, because practically without equipment we had to face to those fires, mostly of vandalism origin … We only had a couple of bombs, a very obsolete one and a new one, which we named Camilo Cienfuegos. ”
When asked about the most complex and tragic actions he faced during his experience as a firefighter, he responded with remarkable sadness:
“I remember one occasion, the burning of eleven houses in the territory of Columbus due to the criminal action of a group of rebels, the fire was so strong that there were several of our comrades and civilians admitted to the hospital for the inhalation of smoke and burns partial It was also difficult to put out the fire of a fuel pipe in the Los Pinitos garage, here in the city of Matanzas …
“The burning of cane fields was also very complex to extinguish the candle and were very frequent in the area of Limonar and Guamacaro … but really the most unforgettable and sinister thing that my companions and I lived was when they called us on March 4th, 1960 to support and help the victims of the La Coubre steam explosion in Havana. My firemen and I entered the boat a little after the second detonation, that is, if a third one were given, we would also have lost our lives that day, that was terrible, especially the recovery of the pieces of the bodies of the deceased, it was something very sinister, “recalls Aquilino with broken words and tears.
As a show of humility and simplicity and with the desire that part of his best memories and experiences are transmitted to the new generations, this courageous octogenarian decided to donate several years ago to the Barracks-Museum of Firefighters of Matanzas the multiple distinctions, medals and decorations that he received from the MININT, the ACRC, the Party and the Provincial Directorate of Museums, for his outstanding revolutionary career and his prominence in the history of the institution.
Today, his documents and personal recognitions are part of the hundreds of pieces of high value that treasures the heritage property and are available to the public that visits it.
Each year, in the context of the usual National Day of Protection against Fire, Padrón Barro is proud; beyond the hundreds of tributes and encouragements received, … “to know that the institution today has a generation of young firefighters, firm, disciplined, highly prepared and with modern equipment to give body and soul to a specialty that is always In the first line of battle for the defense of the Homeland, that is my greatest satisfaction and I wish I had the age and health to keep myself active and ready for any call the Revolution makes.
” So moved he said goodbye to our dialogue in his own home, located in the Armando Mestre, the capital of the capital, Aquilino Padrón, Matanzas combatant with a history of life admirable consecrated to the Revolution, always faithful and loyal to Fidel, to whom He had the privilege of knowing personally and who also treasures the love and total support of his family, neighbors and the community where he lives.