MALABAR - The Malabar Fire and Rescue Department provided a hands-on demonstration Friday, Jan. 26 of new rescue equipment bought through a grant provided by Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
The new extraction equipment, valued at $30,595, provides Malabar Fire Rescue with state-of-the-art tools capable of assisting first responders in vehicle emergencies. Malabar Fire Rescue averages 400 calls a year with nearly 20 percent being motor vehicle related accidents, adding an indispensable asset to their resources.
“Malabar Fire Department is very grateful to Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for this extrication equipment grant,” Malabar Fire Department Fire Chief Michael Foley said. “This next-generation life-safety equipment will enable us to extricate victims of motor vehicle accidents in a much more efficient time frame than the equipment we were using before. We can now quickly extricate and transport these patients to a trauma center so that these patients have the best chance for a positive outcome.”
The demonstration was at Malabar Fire Rescue on Malabar Road in Palm Bay.
Miah Manik, who co-owns the Firehouse Subs on Palm Bay Road in West Melbourne with his wife, Zerin, received a plaque recognizing his store’s role in the grant that helped fund the equipment.
Restaurants like Manik’s recycle five-gallon pickle buckets, available to guests at a $2 donation that goes toward the Firehouse Public Safety Foundation. Donation canisters are also available to explain the nonprofit’s mission and collect spare change, while the “Round Up Program” is available to guests who’d like to “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar. All funds raised benefit the Public Safety Foundation. The Foundation is also the recipient of a charitable sales promotion in which Firehouse of America donates to the Foundation a sum equivalent to 0.13 percent of all gross sales, with a minimum donation of $1,000,000, through Dec. 31.
The collected money goes to purchasing equipment to assist fire departments and first responders across the country.
“Giving back to our first responders is the primary goal of the Foundation,” said Robin Peters, executive director of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. “We’re in a very fortunate position that allows us to work together with Firehouse Subs restaurants to raise funds that help provide life-saving equipment locally and throughout the country. Thanks to the generosity of so many people, we’re able to make a difference.”
Hurst Rescue Tool specialist Tom Winkler of Municipal Emergency Services conducted the training session and showcased three pieces of equipment: the ram, the cutter, and the spreader. The models came out in late 2010.
“This is a tremendous advent of technology,” Winkler said. “This tool is only about seven years old. Prior to being completely battery operated and cordless, these tools were very large and heavy. It had a gasoline engine. The engine drove a pump and the pump used two hydraulic lines like garden hoses connected to the tool. It made a lot of noise, used gas and oil which produced carbon monoxide. It was very difficult to use and set up.”
Malabar Fire and Rescue has been in need of more accessible and time-efficient rescue tools for some time. With a set-up process that eliminated the need for hose connections and possible motor start-up delays, the tools are ready to be used as soon as emergency services arrive at the scene of an accident.
“’Jaws of Life’ began in 1971. There are other brands that make rescue tools, but 'Jaws of Life' is a brand," Winkler said. "There are basically three sets of tools: a cutter, a spreader and a ram. Malabar [Fire Rescue] now has one of each.”
Each tool is operated by a battery source in the same way a cordless drill works. Smaller in size and lighter in weight, these tools provide the firefighters with easy accessibility with a fraction of the time to ready them. The battery-operated tools have revolutionized the way rescue personnel respond and assist victims of motor vehicle accidents.
Pioneering that revolution is Hurst Tools, which was the first to market the new concept.
“They all laughed at Hurst," Winkler said. "In the fire service, tradition shapes our scope and tradition is hard to change. The pushback on these tools seven or eight years ago was huge. No one thought it would take off and now everyone is copying it.”
A late 1990s Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo was the demonstration vehicle. The cutter was the most demonstrated of the trifecta of rescue tools. Malabar City Councilman Danny White was the first to use the cutter which sliced through the door frame of the Jeep akin to the way tin snips would cut through aluminum.
“Cars are changing so quickly. The steels in vehicles today are much different than the steels in vehicles even six or seven years ago. The power in these tools will allow the firefighters to be successful on 2018 models,” Winkler said.
The cutter’s weight is 48 pounds.
Lieutenant Daniel Barkley expressed his department's need for the new tools, estimating that the previous equipment was about 20 years old.
“I’ve been here since 2010 and these tools have been here before I was," Barkley said. "Whereas needing time to set-up, each guy now can just grab a tool and is ready to go right off the bat."
Other Malabar firefighters were given a more detailed training course with the additional tools after the live demonstration.
“I want to personally thank Miah for helping me with this grant," Barkley said. "It all happened because I went into Firehouse Subs to eat a sandwich one day and just started talking with him."