VFD gets equipment donated

Published 9:50 pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Holland Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday dedicated $29,500 worth of new equipment it received thanks to a grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

The equipment will help rescue workers speed up the time it takes to extricate victims of serious vehicle accidents from the wreckage.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation donated nearly $30,000 for the Holland Volunteer Fire Department to purchase equipment for vehicle extrications. From left are Firehouse Subs franchisee John King, Holland VFD Chief Mark Ellis, Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue interim Chief Ed Taylor, and Chris Pietrzyk, area representative for Firehouse Subs.

“We’ve got some stuff out there now, and if it weren’t for Firehouse Subs, Holland wouldn’t have it,” said Holland Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Ellis. “This is going to have a tremendous impact on our community.”

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The equipment includes machines that cut through metal and spread it apart, as well as a generator and power hoses to run them. There also are four rods used to stabilize a vehicle that is unsteady.

Aside from the lack of fire hydrants, Ellis said, motor-vehicle accidents are the biggest concern the Holland firefighters deal with on a daily basis. With truck traffic in the area increasing, the problem is only going to get worse, he said.

Ellis said he applied for government grants to purchase the equipment for several years in a row, but was unsuccessful. Then he found out about the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation program.

The foundation raises money through coin canisters in its restaurants, a round-up option at the register and selling empty 5-gallon pickle buckets for $2 each.

Since being founded in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the foundation has given more than $4.5 million to police, fire and emergency medical service organizations throughout the country, including more than $220,000 in Virginia.

Suffolk also benefited from the foundation in 2010, when the Suffolk Police Department received $19,500 worth of equipment to help map and analyze crash and crime scenes more quickly and more effectively.

John King, franchisee of Suffolk’s North Main Street Firehouse Subs location, said he is happy to have helped bring $49,000 worth of public safety equipment to the city.

“My wife, Pam, and I are just ecstatic,” he said. King is a former Suffolk police officer, and Pam King also is a former officer and now works in the Fire Marshal’s Office as an investigator.

The equipment has been on Holland’s engine for about a month, Ellis said.

“Luckily, we’ve not had to use it yet,” he said.

The Holland Volunteer Fire Department also is looking for new recruits. Volunteers receive 200 hours of state-certified training. For more information, call 377-6178 or email mark.ellis@vdot.Virginia.gov.