LBFD Joins Statewide SAVE Program
2014-11-06 · By Editor
As first responders, firefighters are called upon to provide comfort for families on the worst day of their lives. Now, firefighters from several Southern California communities will be able to immediately help fire and disaster victims take the first small step to healing.
Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) lets firefighters provide on-the-spot aid to families and individuals who suffer substantial property loss in a fire, earthquake or other disaster. Created and funded by the non-profit California Fire Foundation, SAVE provides fire departments with Mastercard value cards that can be activated at the scene so victims and their families can get a hot meal, buy some clothes or maybe find a place to stay the night.
“Firefighters do what we do because of a desire to serve,” said Lou Paulson, chair of the California Fire Foundation and a retired Contra Costa firefighter. “By offering SAVE cards to those who have lost so much, firefighters are able to continue providing comfort and support after the fire is out.”
Long Beach Fire Department, Anaheim Fire & Rescue and Monrovia Fire are among 30 fire departments statewide that have joined the SAVE partnership. Battalion chiefs carry the $100 Mastercard SAVE cards on residential fire and disaster calls, and if occupancy loss from a fire or emergency is 25 percent or more of total value, a SAVE card can be activated right at the scene.
“When someone loses their home in a fire or disaster, they often don’t know where to turn,” said Michael Duree, chief of the Long Beach Fire Department. “As first responders, we’re in a unique position to offer a little extra ‘arm around the shoulder’ to help victims get through a very tough time.”
“Very often, the people who lose their homes have to leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs, leaving behind money, credit cards or IDs,” added Rex Pritchard, president of Long Beach Firefighters Local 372. “A little help like this can make a big difference for someone who has suffered a great loss.”
SAVE was initiated a year ago by the California Fire Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting fallen firefighter families and their communities. It was tested in Sacramento County, before being expanded statewide this past September. More than 45 families have already been helped statewide through the SAVE program.
“Our fire stations are in every community, and when our neighbors suffer a loss, we hurt as well,” added Rusty Coffelt, Deputy Chief of Anaheim Fire and Rescue. “SAVE is our way of helping out like any good neighbor.”
“The California Fire Foundation does a lot for our firefighter families and the communities we protect,” said Bob McClellan, president of Anaheim Firefighters Association Local 2899. “We’re excited to work with the Foundation and with our department to offer a little help to fire victims.”
Funding for SAVE comes entirely from the California Fire Foundation – no taxpayer dollars are spent on the program. Most of the donations to the Foundation come from Cailfornia firefighters themselves. Additional corporate support comes from Chevron.
“Although we hope no one in our community needs to use the SAVE program, we are certainly grateful for the opportunity to provide financial support for those immediate needs following an emergency,” added Monrovia Fire Chief Chris Donovan.
“We’ve all been in those situations where a family is standing outside while the life they knew goes up in flames before their eyes,” said Brad Dover, president of Monrovia Firefighters, Local 2415. “We can’t restore all they’ve loss, but a SAVE card can help them through those first difficult 24 hours.”
The Foundation continues to raise funds and seek additional sponsorships to bring SAVE cards to more communities and, eventually, increase the face value of the cards. Individuals interested in contributing can go to SAVE.cafirefoundation.org.