Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz (center, right) and Engineer Robert Clark (center, left) accepted $49,000 worth of new equipment from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation last week. Clark was the author of the grant application for turnout gear and breathing apparatus.
Photo courtesy Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

Firehouse Subs aids the department

The Idyllwild Fire Department was the beneficiary of two separate grants from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. One gift gave the department eight sets of turnout gear and the other, 14 self-contained breathing apparatuses. The estimated value of the philanthropy was $49,300.

The awarded gear includes coats, pants, suspenders, boots, helmets, hoods and gloves.

“It’s amazing when a private foundation or an individual shows their appreciation,” said Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz. “They are doing incredible things for public safety. These were great grants.”

Reitz emphasized that in limited economic times, these grants help tax dollars go further.

Battalion Chief Mark LaMont said the grant for the turnout gear was submitted in June 2016 and the breathing apparatus application was submitted in December. Engineer Robert Clark prepared both applications.

“Our ability to provide the services which we provide is absolutely dependent upon our ability to provide our responders with this equipment,” LaMont added.

On Thursday, April 20, the foundation held a ceremony to announce this award, as well as two other awards. Cathedral City Fire Department received extrication equipment worth about $20,250 and Desert Arc, a charity serving adults with developmental disabilities, received emergency medical training equipment worth nearly $6,000.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety program is nationwide, according to Meghan Vargas, senior manager of foundation development. Fire departments, police, emergency medical-service entities, schools and libraries are all eligible to apply for funding but requests exceed the number of awards.

“We have several criteria: life saving equipment, preventive and other protective education, and military support,” Vargas said. “It feels great to do this. It’s a very fun job.”

When Vargas joined the foundation, the grant funding totaled about $100,000 quarterly. Currently, Firehouse Subs foundation awards about $1 million quarterly, she said. Since 2005, Firehouse has given about $650,000 to California agencies.