NEWS

Rotary Club donation will help firefighters

Wendy Robinson (center left), executive director for the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, accepts a donation from the Poway Scripps Rotary Club, represented by Karen Herreros (center right) at Fire Station 37. (photo by Bella Ross)

Rotary Club donation will help firefighters

With unprecedented wildfires and the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic at front-of-mind for many Californians, it can be easy to imagine that the impacts of the duel tragedies on local firefighters have been extensive.

It’s this reality that prompted the Poway-Scripps Rotary Club to offer a $1,000 monetary donation to the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation. The donation will help fuel an influx of personal protective equipment and supplies necessary to confront what will undoubtedly be a tough fire season.

The San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated
to helping provide the unmet needs of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

“They indicated they needed emergency kits for their firefighters, but we determined it was easier to give them money and let them buy what they need as they need it,” said Karen Herreros, former Poway-Scripps Rotary Club president and secretary for the Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council.

Crews don’t just need increased medical supplies in order to protect themselves from the virus. Social distancing among strike teams – crews that travel to combat major wildfires around the state – means less sharing of communal spaces and greater demand for individual-use materials.

Wendy Robinson, executive director for the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, said this includes sleeping cots and pads, as well as disposable masks and gowns.

“The fires are more frequent, they’re more intense, and then you throw in this enemy that you can’t see, which is COVID,” Robinson said. “There have been 11 firefighters who have tested positive for COVID within the city.”

At Scripps Ranch Fire Station 37, Captain Rob Hackett said this reality affects the day-to-day operations of crews in neighborhood stations as well as those who are out on strike teams.

As the Valley Fire raged in East County, Hackett said, 120 San Diego firefighters were out on deployment with strike teams as far North as the Oregon border. Hundreds more were sticking behind working mandatory overtime, which could mean as many as eight to nine consecutive days at the station.

“We’ll be busy for a couple months,” Hackett said.

The everyday operations of these firefighters often puts them face-to-face with COVID-19 carriers, making the Rotary Club donation and the supplies it will fund all the more essential.

“They’re so often the first person to make contact with somebody who is potentially sick,” Robinson said. “So, it’s really important that they’re protected not just for their health and wellness, but because they’re going and treating so many different people. They don’t want to be a carrier either.”

To support and learn more about the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, visit SDfirerescue.org.

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