FireHouse Subs Dedication Event
By Malvern Patch Author Pete Kennedy
March 8, 2012

Firefighters face some big dangers in their job—burning buildings, cars that need to be ripped apart and tall ladders, to name just a few. But there are very small dangers, too—smoke, dangerous chemicals and even communicable diseases in the air at emergency scenes.

East Whiteland Fire Company was able to purchase a machine that ensures masks worn by firefighters and EMS personnel fit properly, thanks to a recent grant from Firehouse Subs charitable arm.

The roughly $12,000 in grant funds paid for a Portacount Respirator Fit Tester 8038, which is used to fit gas masks, self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) and respirators.

At a small ceremony held Thursday at Firehouse Subs in Frazer, Fire Chief Ken Hurley and his crew assembled to demonstrate how the machine works. Bob Lowe, who owns the Firehouse Subs location in Frazer, and Robin Peters, executive director of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, each spoke briefly to express their gratitude to the fire company.

"All you guys, 24-7, you dedicate your lives to protecting our lives. And that's just really special, and I personally want to tell you how much it's appreciated," Peters said.

She also thanked the restaurant staff for their donation collection efforts, including asking patrons if they'd like to round up their bill to the next dollar and donate the difference to the foundation.

Lowe spoke about the quick relationship the fire company built with Firehouse Subs, including the donation of clothing and gear that hung on the restaurant's walls.

"Without the East Whiteland Fire Department, [this restaurant] would not have the feel that it does have," Lowe said.

Battalion Chief Chris Strauss said the fire company would have had to pull money from insurance funds to buy the device, if not for the grant money.

"They opened last summer, and we put in for this grant for this machine, and it was approved within a month. It was amazing," Strauss said. "It's a good foundation and it's very well-funded, I guess."

After a brief demonstration of how the device works, with firefighter Kevin Skymba as the model, Chief Hurley explained that the machine would benefit fire companies across the region.

"This is going to be made available to everybody in this area. Anybody on the Main Line," Hurley said. "Berwyn, Paoli, Malvern, Exton, Lionville, Goshen—it's available for all of them to use."

According to the company's website, Firehouse Subs was founded in 1994 in Jacksonville, Fla., by brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, both former firefighters. Today, it is a "fast-casual restaurant chain" with nearly 500 locations, all adorned with firefighter décor. The foundation was created in 2005 to provide equipment and education to first-responders: Through the non-profit 501(c)(3), the Foundation has given $3.1 million to hometown heroes, impacting more than 275 communities in 20 states.

Original article featured in the mainline patch:
Photos by Kelly Boran