A Tree Falls in Your Yard – Who You Going to Call?

March 2015

Michael: We arrived home to find a tree across our driveway and crunching our neighbor’s car. I saw it as an opportunity to go purchase more play toys and told my wife, “Well, I guess I need to purchase a chainsaw.”

01 tree across drivewayThe excitement drained when my wife said, “I’ll call the fire department.”

Fire depatment? Why them I thought. But I knew to just wait. This turned out to be another one of those times where my North American thinking seemed perfectly logical but was wrong.

Graciela: My husband did give me a strange look, but he is learning that not everything in Colombia is done the same it is in the United States. In Bogotá you can’t just cut down a tree. They are protected. So if a tree falls a government authority must document what has happened. In this case it is the fire department.

Michael: After my wife explained everything the idea makes sense to me. There are over eight million people in the city with a population density of about 4,310 inhabitants per square kilometer. Basically it is a concrete jungle. Trees are important to the health of the city and the people. The government has taken steps to protect them.

Graciela: The bomberos (firemen) from the Suba division showed up within an hour after my call. All were very polite and professional in their manner.

03 Bomberos working on treeMichael: They came with todo los juguetes as they say in Colombia. It literally translates into all the toys, but it means they brought everything needed to do the job.02 firemen tools for tree cutting

I’ve cut my share of trees in the USA. Chainsaw safety was learned early in life. Then experience taught me about the “spring poles” or those branches that are bent and twisted under the weight of the tree then just spring at you when the pressure is released. These firemen observed all the safety rules and in addition paid very close attention to making sure their actions did not cause more damage. They impressed me.

Graciela: In just a little over an hour they cut up everything and stacked the wood. I signed the paper attesting to their excellent job.

Michael: So, if you are an expat living in Bogotá and a tree falls in your yard, now you know to call the fire department.

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