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Firehouse Subs donates $60,000 to fire districts


Christopher Andersson

Officials from local fire districts and Firehouse Subs hold up a check for $19,300 from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for Snohomish County Fire District 22 on April 26.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has donated about $60,000 to local fire districts to purchase new equipment.

The Getchell Fire District, the Darrington Fire District and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources all received funds from the foundation and gathered on April 26 at the Lakewood Firehouse Subs to celebrate the donations.

Firehouse Subs is a national chain which was founded by former firefighters. The organization's public safety foundation provides grants across the nation to firefighting agencies.

Much of the recently donated funds were raised "unfortunately through tragedy," said Maryellen Mech, Firehouse Subs area representative.

After the 2014 Oso landslide the restaurants collected for local districts.

"In two short months our two restaurants [in the area] raised almost $6,000 through the guests," she said. "We've had that money set aside and it's been sitting there until now."

The Getchell Fire District received $19,300 to improve their wildland firefighting truck, also known as a 'brush engine,' which is used to travel into wilderness areas using rougher roads than typical fire engines could.

"I was personally involved in the wildfires in 2015, and those type six brush engines were the workforce," said Travis Hots, chief of the Getchell Fire District, "because they could get to places that larger fire engines couldn't get to."

The district is using the funds to buy a new water tank for their brush engine.

"This brush engine has been serving our community since 2002," said Hots. "[The tank] was very used and worn when we did put it into service."

Hots said that even with preventative maintenance it was time to replace the tank, but that it was difficult to find the funds for it.

"We routinely have issues with it, because it was just fragile," he said.

Wildland firefighting trucks like these are often sent to help neighboring districts as well.

"When a fire overwhelms a community, in most cases in eastern Washington, they'll have a wildfire event, and they ask for mutual aid," said Hots.

Hots wanted to thank the organization for their help.

"I want to thank the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and, more importantly, the community for supporting the great program," he said.

About $16,280 is going to the Darrington Fire District as well, with which they purchased an all-terrain utility vehicle to help travel faster to rougher areas that ambulances could not.

That can happen often during the music festivals held near the town, said Jeff McClelland, a captain at the Darrington Fire District

"We can't get our ambulances too far up some of those roads," he said. "With this [John Deere] Gator we can bring back a patient swiftly and we don't have to walk as far."

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources also received about $24,960.

They purchased a portable remote automated weather station. The station can be brought right next to wildfire and provide real-time alerts directly to firefighters' radios.

The money for that grant also came from efforts relating to tragedy.

"When the wildfires happened, again we set that money aside to do something for that," said Mech.

"It's something we're honored to do," said Jacquelyn Gubbins, senior manager of foundation programs.

"Over 70 percent of our fundraising comes from inside the Firehouse Sub restaurants," she said, which includes staff selling buckets, encouraging their round-up program and donation canisters.

"All that small change adds up to big things," said Gubbins.


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