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LACROSSE – Luck may be improving for the Town of LaCrosse Fire Department. As reported previously, the department is receiving funding from their town to help bring the fire department building up to code and to provide two trained fire/rescue personnel on duty 24/7. In addition, the fire department recently received a grant to help replace some of their outdated safety equipment.

The funds, which were awarded by Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, are being used to replace $15,390 of the $27,000 of outdated, non-compliant safety equipment needed by the town's fire department. Ten sets of Viking Hainsworth Titan Duo turnout gear (coat and pant) worth $15,390 were received by the LaCrosse Fire Department. The awarded equipment will replace old damaged gear, allowing the department to provide safe and efficient fire services to the community.

This Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) purchased through the grant is European designed and constructed gear that far exceeds the industry standard in the United States.

The brand was discovered by McDavid at Fire-Rescue East in Daytona Beach last January. Fire-Rescue East is the largest trade show held in the east by the Florida Fire Chief's Association. McDavid also learned that Milwaukee, Boston and Miami-Dade Training Academy were using this type of PPE and that the cost is roughly $500 per set lower than what is being used by other fire departments in Alachua County. “No other fire department in north Florida is using this technology,” said McDavid who feels the equipment is far superior to the usual equipment found in most U.S. fire departments.

Earlier this year, LaCrosse Fire Chief Paul McDavid made a case before the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) asking for the county to help keep his fire fighters safe by financing the cost of the outdated equipment. Although the county turned down the request, McDavid did not stop there. Instead he submitted a second request to the Firehouse Subs Foundation for assistance and was awarded a grant of more than $15,000 to help defray the cost of replacing some of the required equipment.

“Although the grant does not cover all the needed equipment,” said McDavid, “it goes a long way towards helping to keep our firefighters safe and does so at no cost to our citizens. It is a fantastic program and we can't thank Firehouse Subs enough for helping to keep our department's men and women safe as they work in hazardous conditions.”In one more area of good fortune, the City of Jacksonville loaned LaCrosse a 2004 American LaFrance fire truck to use while LaCrosse's 1991 Emergency One (E-One) truck is being repaired. “Their fire department is extremely generous and has loaned us their vehicle at no cost for whatever length of time we need to use it,” said McDavid. “We expect our truck to be out of service until after the first of the year. No matter how long it takes, Jacksonville's Fire Department has told us to keep their vehicle as long as we need it.”

“Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was founded in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” according to their web page. “Firehouse Subs co-founders, Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen, traveled to Mississippi where they fed first responders as well as survivors.” As they traveled back to Florida exhausted and exhilarated, they knew more could be done and the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was born.

The Foundation, which has provided grants in excess of $14M, allocates funding in five distinct areas: life-saving equipment, prevention education, scholarships and continued education, support for members of the military and disaster preparedness and disaster relief.

The 501(c)(3) foundation reviews grant requests quarterly and, although Firehouse Subs is their major contributor, the foundation depends on citizen contributions as well to help fund their grants.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation can check their website at www.firehousesubs.com or go to their nearest Firehouse Subs location.

Anyone wishing to donate to the remaining $11,610 in replacement safety gear required by the LaCrosse Fire Department may contact the Town of LaCrosse City Hall at 386-462-2784 or Chief Paul McDavid at 386-462-1544.

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