On November 16, the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance (SBFA) honored Andrew Firestone and his family for their generous time and support of the SBFA. During the short, informal ceremony at Firehouse One, SBFA President Paul Cashman thanked Firestone for generously acting as emcee and auctioneer for the Fireball, which is SBFA’s biennial fundraiser. The children were also recognized for an enterprising lemonade stand, which they set up after the Whittier Fire and which raised more than $500 for the SBFA. Cashman noted that not only did the funds raised allow for the purchase of valuable equipment, but the publicity generated from the lemonade stand had ripple effects, leading to more donations for the alliance.
Firestone related how the first year he did the Fireball was right after the Jesusita Fire, a fire which forced him and his family to evacuate one night at 11 pm. He shared his appreciation for the work of the firefighters in battling the blaze and the Firefighters Alliance for the support it provides to the firefighters. Firestone pointed to the alliance’s purchase of night vision goggles, which enabled the pilots to work through the night saving homes, as an example of the critical equipment the alliance provides.
Cashman expressed his gratitude to Firestone not just for the work he does for the SBFA, but for the work he does for so many other nonprofits in town as well. Calling Firestone a “man about town” who is everywhere, he related how truly blessed Santa Barbara is to have Firestone in the community.
In appreciation, the alliance presented the Firestones with a Yater surfboard signed by the legendary builder himself, Renny Yater, along with signatures from Jackson Browne, Greg Leisz, and Hank Pitcher. The board was originally donated to the SBFA by Boardmember Mindy Denson and her husband, Chris Denson, as an auction item for the Fireball earlier this year. The bidder who won the board generously donated the board back to the SBFA. Jackson Browne and Greg Leisz performed at the Fireball and Hank Pitcher was the event artist.
Firestone was really touched by the gift and the kids were thrilled with the other part of gift package: a firehouse tour and fire engine ride.
The SBFA is a nonprofit organization that funds critical equipment for the Santa Barbara City and County Fire Departments. Based on requests from firefighters, it funds innovative, cutting edge technical equipment not available through the departments, which enables firefighters to more effectively and more safely do their jobs. Since its inception 13 years ago, the SBFA has purchased more than $1.4 million worth of equipment for the City and County.
This year’s Fireball raised $125,000, which largely funded a mobile incident command vehicle. Currently, the multiple agencies that respond to a fire do their planning from the hood of someone’s car, or for larger fires, they transition to a fixed structure. The SBFA is confident it will raise the additional $50,000 needed to obtain the vehicle early next year. The mobile post is self-sustaining with radios, computers, printers and plotters.
Among the equipment purchased by the SBFA in past years are thermal imaging cameras which detect heat through a door, wall and smoke; hot sticks that determine whether electrical wires are energized; and GPS devices that allow firefighters to know their position in relation to others.
Paul Cashman, the SBFA’s President, is driven to do the hard fundraising work year after year because he knows that without the SBFA’s efforts, the firefighters would not have this equipment — equipment that saves lives by making the firefighting effort more effective and safe.
For more info about the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance, go to sbfirefightersalliance.org.
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By Gail Arnold