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Serving subs, saving lives: Firehouse Subs donates more than $10,700 worth of equipment to Danvers FD

Posted by Ryan Mooney  December 12, 2012 12:03 PM

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Photos by Ryan Mooney

David Tucci (front), the regional manager who oversees Firehouse Subs in Danvers, poses with Danvers firefighters in front of Engine 2, which was recently outfitted with more than $10,700 worth of new equipment purchased with money donated by the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Engine 2 was dedicated over the summer to Matthew Smith, a Danvers firefighter who lost a two-year battle with melanoma in March.

It?s been over a month since the Danvers Fire Department outfitted Engine 2 with new hose, a blitz nozzle and a hybrid assist valve to help them better combat exceptionally large or hard to reach fires, but so far the town's firefighters have been lucky enough not to use any of it.

But that's not to say the new equipment won't someday be needed to save lives, and whoever has their lives or property in jeopardy, but not lost thanks to the spiffy new gear, has a sandwich shop to thank.

About 15 of Danvers' finest gathered at Firehouse Subs on Endicott Street Tuesday afternoon to meet those behind the chain eatery's $10,771 donation through the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which was enough to purchase all of the new equipment.

"It's nice to know that [the equipment] is there when we need it," Fire Chief Kevin Farrell said. "This is the largest grant the fire department has received this year...we're fortunate in the sense that having a foundation such as this, with a franchise right in town, that we're able to secure those funds."

The foundation was started in 2005 by the former firefighters that founded the restaurant, Chris and Robin Sorenson, after the pair saw with their own eyes the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf region, not far from Jacksonville, Fla., where the restaurant and foundation are headquartered.

"In 2005 [Chris and Robin] went to Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," said Robin Peters, executive director of the foundation. "They went there to basically feed first responders from Jacksonville, and instead it turns out they were feeding first responders from FEMA, as well as many, many victims of that storm.

"It was a game changer."

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Danvers Fire Chief Kevin Farrell explains to David Tucci, Firehouse Subs regional manager, how some of the new equipment works.

Since its inception the foundation has made substantial donations to over 500 emergency response departments nationwide, and also supports disaster relief and awareness initiatives, such as donating to the Red Cross and educational programs aimed at preventing drunk driving.

The restaurant has over 550 locations in 32 states and Puerto Rico, but Firehouse Subs have only recently begun springing up in the Northeast - including one in Copley Square in Boston - and the foundation raises a lot of money for the departments it aids through nearby locations.

Restaurants around the country recycle leftover, five-gallon pickle buckets and sell them to guests for $2 a piece. Donation canisters in-store explain the non-profit's mission and collect spare change, and a "Round Up Program" allows guests to round their bill up to the nearest dollar, with the difference going to the foundation.

"What we've seen in the economy, especially over the last two or three years, there are so many departments that have a lot of life-saving tools that they need," Peters said. "But because of the budgets they haven't been able to request them, or get them, so we're in a position with the money we raise through our foundation to provide life-saving equipment."

The grant awarded to Danvers is the first the foundation has given in Massachusetts, and Town Manager Wayne Marquis is certainly grateful to have a business contribute so much to the town in such a short amount of time.

"You've been in town six months and you've already done 10 years worth of good work for the town," Marquis said to regional manager Dave Tucci, who oversees the Danvers store. "We had a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of our Rail Trail and you guys stepped right up and helped us during that event...you're out there doing good deeds on a regular basis and it's all very much appreciated."

Farrell says the department now has its eye on raising funds to get an ATV-type vehicle that can be outfitted with a stretcher and other emergency response equipment in case of an accident on the Danvers Rail Trail, where a fire truck or ambulance won't fit to reach a victim.

Ryan Mooney can be reached at globe.mooney@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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