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Sierra Madre Rotary Club Donates $10,000 for State of the Art Radios for SMVFD
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Sierra Madre Rotary Club Donates Funds for State of the Art Radios to SMVFD
By Bill Coburn
After the pledge to the flag, an inspirational reading on commitment by Wayne Walters, a rousing rendition of “God Bless America” led by Tom Brady, and breakfast catered by Café 322, it was time for Rotary President Carmen Thibault to get to the heart of this week’s Rotary meeting. She began by introducing Dan Alle, who chaired this year’s Program Committee. The annual Program, which is generally used to fund Community Service efforts, this year had been designated to fund one major project, the purchase of state of the art radios for the Sierra Madre Fire Department.
Former president Alle began by noting the special relationship between Rotary and the Fire Dept., recalling a post 9/11 memorial service that had been held at the Fire Station back in September of 2002, and the help that the Fire Dept. had provided to Rotary in finding, purchasing, restoring and donating a fire truck to a community in Mexico. He thanked the Fire Dept. for allowing Rotary into its “home” for the meeting.
“We’re so fortunate here in Sierra Madre to have the best volunteer fire department in the country. It’s really a blessing for our community,” said Alle, who recalled an evening a few years back when the Fire Dept. had come to his home on a medical call and rushed his son to the hospital. He also spoke of an evening just a few weeks ago when his neighbor’s house had caught fire, and the quick action of the Fire Department volunteers had kept the fire from spreading to his home and those of his neighbors. “The professionalism in the firefighters and the police department was just outstanding…they just did a fantastic job, so Chief and the firefighters, thanks again.”
Mr. Alle discussed the decision by the Program committee to make a donation to the Fire Department, and how he and Rudy Hayek had been delegated to speak with the Dept. to determine its needs. Then Chief Roger Lowe discussed the need of the Department to update its radios, bringing them up to post 9/11 standards. According to a recent article written by Alle, Chief Lowe told them that the new radios would “qualify the department to be in full compliance with federal communications regulations, which require all public agencies to convert their current bandwidth to narrow bandwidth, thereby doubling the number of available radio frequencies.” Secondly, possession of these radios would enable the department to join a new system for radio operability, which would facilitate communications with other public safety agencies, thereby minimizing the exposure to potential problems encountered during 9/11. Finally, these radios are equipped with a panic button, to be used should a firefighter become lost or injured while on a call. The radios, Motorola XTS 5000 Digital Radios, have been ordered and are being custom configured for the Sierra Madre Fire Dept.
Alle told the assembled Rotarians and members of the Department that “Thanks to the hard work of the fund-raising committee, and each Rotarian in this room, and the generous support of the community, business, and friends, we were able to raise funds to purchase not one, but two radios for our Fire Dept.”
Alle then introduced the Program committee, which consisted of Susanne Hayek, B.D. Howes, Cathy Hundshamer, Don Mills, Louise Callaway, Frank Hall, Rudy Hayek, and Carmen Thibault. “They were instrumental in not only keeping us on track, but going out and raising funds, talking to people, and sharing what our goals were, trying to help out the Fire Dept. and raise money for Rotary…” He also noted the contributions of Connie Brown, Tom Brady, Bill Coburn and Gwen Gordon, as well as Frank Hall, now of Arcadia Rotary, and Frank Griffiths, who printed the programs.
At that time, Alle introduced past-President B.D. Howes and current president Carmen Thibault who presented the oversized check, in the amount of $10,340, to Sierra Madre Fire Chief Steve Heydorff, Battalion Chief Bob Burnett, and Captain Ray Smith. Chief Heydorff pointed out that Smith had been invited to be part of the presentation because he is “the radio guy. He’s the one that puts all the software in these radios, me, I push the button, I talk, I go, I listen.”
Chief Heydorff than thanked Rotary for the “generous donation of the two badly needed radios.” He noted that the City had bought four, and a grant had provided others, but that the third engine had always been short, and “these two will complement that engine.” He discussed how busy the Department has been the last year, starting with the implementation of paramedic service last June, and noting that the paramedics had responded to more than 650 calls, adding that the Dept. had passed its first annual audit by the LA County Dept. of Health Services two weeks ago, with just a few minor comments.
He briefly discussed the start of the Department’s auxiliary program, with volunteers working one day a week, one twenty-four hour shift, which helps tremendously during the daytime, “when we need them the most.” And he discussed the creation and execution of the first Sierra Madre “fire camp,” which graduated sixteen firefighters from the eighteen-week academy.
He talked about the Santa Anita Fire which burned 584 acres and that was fought by more than 1,000 firefighters, noting it was one of the most costly fire suppressions in the City’s history, with total cost expected to exceed $4 million. He added that the cost to the city may not be known for a few months, because the OES (Office of Emergency Services) and the other departments are “kind of busy up north.” He talked about the mud flow caused by a freak thunderstorm that followed shortly after the fire. He discussed Sierra Madre’s contributions to the state’s efforts to suppress lightning caused fires in May, noting that SM Battalion Chief Roger Lowe had been part of an OES Strike Team that included engines from Arcadia, Fountain Valley, Ventura, Ventura City and Carpinteria for fourteen days. He added that Sierra Madre’s OES Unit was in the shop at that time, but that after getting out, it left for the Humboldt fire, with Sierra Madre firefighters on site for fourteen days, followed by a second crew that was flown up for another ten days. He noted that the unit is currently being used at the Telegraph fire.
He discussed the City’s new Emergency Operations Center, and the Fire Dept.’s new meeting room and “state of the art class room, where we can have the equipment to properly train and educate our firefighters.” He noted that we currently have twenty-eight part-time paramedics, but he hopes to bring in three full-time paramedics to add consistency and continuity. He also expressed a desire to bring in a new ambulance as the current ambulance is eight years old. The new ambulance will cost $110,000.
Rotary president Carmen Thibault then closed the meeting by thanking the Chief and the firefighters, noting that “We are really just thrilled to be able to make this presentation to you, but our contribution pales in (comparison to) the contribution you all make to this City and the surrounding communities, and we applaud you and we can’t thank you enough for all you do.”
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