In the parking lot outside of the Bradenton Firehouse Subs, members of four fire and rescue departments unveiled the latest equipment upgrades to their fleets.
All the equipment was purchased with a $130,362 grant from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department was one of the four agencies at the Sept. 25 event that included Bradenton Fire Department, Manatee Search & Rescue and North River Fire District.
North River Fire District was unable to show what it had purchased with the grant because it’s still on the way — an inflatable rescue boat valued at $15,892.
The other three departments, including Longboat Key, showed off the brand new extrication equipment. With all three departments’ equipment, the total came to $114,469, roughly $39,000 of which benefited Longboat's department.
Longboat received Hurst Jaws of Life, which include cutters, a ram and a spreader. The tools are used to remove trapped victims from accidents and structural collapses.
These specifically are saltwater submersible, a necessary feature when on a barrier island.
Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi spoke about the importance of this equipment for his department.
“I know for Longboat Key, this is a game-changer for us,” Dezzi said.
Firehouse Subs is built on “decades of fire and police service,” according to its website.
Locations raise money by asking customers to “round up” their total to the nearest dollar, reselling pickle buckets and setting out donation canisters.
Firehouse Subs regional manager John Cz was in attendance, along with Kaite Fountain, who co-owns the location with her husband Mike.
“What you guys do is just amazing,” Cz said to the departments in his speech. “I just want to say how much we appreciate what you do for us, and how much Firehouse Subs appreciates what you guys do for us and our communities.”
To show their appreciation, Dezzi presented both Cz and Fountain with their own plaques from the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department.
Dezzi also invited other Longboat Key firefighter paramedics up with him to present Fountain with a helmet signed by every crew member in the department, to be hung up in the restaurant.