EFR directs donation toward new equipment purchases

June 29, 2010

By Caleb Heeringa

Eastside Fire & Rescue is directing a donation of more than $4,700 to an organization primarily dedicated to buying equipment for their own firefighters.

“The work they’re doing helps us meet the mission we are tasked with,” said Jeff Griffin, EFR deputy chief of operations.

The donation is more than three-quarters of the money private ambulance service American Medical Response will donate to local charities the board chooses. This year’s donations included $1,500 to Ryan’s Solution, a nonprofit run by an EFR firefighter aimed at ending teenage abuse of prescription medicine, and $4,739 to Eastside Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, a nonprofit support group for EFR firefighters.

The annual donation is part of EFR’s services agreement with AMR and can go to any nonprofit the board sees as worthy, provided they are a registered 501(c)3, according to EFR documents presented at the board of directors’ June 10 meeting. The volunteer association meets the requirement.

Brant Butte, AMR’s director of communications, said the company has not yet reviewed the board’s recommendation and will evaluate it when it hears from the board. In past years, the board has asked AMR to donate the money to area food banks.

“We donate to all sorts of things,” Butte said. “We do whatever we can in the community to make sure we’re giving back.”

What exactly the money is spent on will be entirely up to the association. Anita Sandall, the group’s secretary, said that past purchases have included a raft for use in swift-water rescues, thermal cameras that can find a heat source or unconscious person in a fire, and temporal thermometers that can be placed on someone’s forehead to read their temperature.

“We send out a departmentwide e-mail asking for ideas for what equipment we don’t have that we might need,” Sandall said.

According to documents filed with the IRS in 2008, the organization also spent more than $3,000 on televisions for two Issaquah stations, $700 on patio equipment for a Sammamish station, and $2,100 on an annual banquet and picnic for firefighters and their families. The group raised $38,833 through donations in 2007.

EFR Chief Lee Soptich said he had no problem with the donation, since the group has been instrumental in getting Eastside firefighters important tools that the district normally couldn’t afford.

“If they were buying themselves clothes or awards or something, (the board) wouldn’t recommend it,” he said. “They help make sure the region is better served.”

Caleb Heeringa: 392-6434. ext. 247, or cheeringa@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

How it will help

Scott DePuy said the board’s donation will be a “big help” in his organization’s fight against prescription drug abuse by teenagers.

DePuy, an Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighter, founded Ryan’s Solution after his son died of an accidental overdose in April 2008. DePuy has spoken to school assemblies and distributed wristbands in each high school’s colors to raise awareness about the threat of prescription drugs.

DePuy said he plans to distribute Ryan’s Solution bracelets at a soccer camp for low-income kids in Everett. Over the long term, he would like to replicate the Sammamish Police Department’s prescription drop box, housed in City Hall, in other cities across King County. The drop box allows people to dispose of unwanted prescriptions safely and anonymously.

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