The harrowing moments following a fire, earthquake, mudslide/landslide or flood are chaotic and confusing for victims, who typically are in desperate need of a small boost to start the long healing process.
In that spirit, and with fire season continuing and the holiday season approaching, Anaheim Fire & Rescue on Wednesday announced its participation in a program that provides $100 to households thrown into turmoil by catastrophic fire or disaster.
AF&R is among 30 agencies statewide that have implemented SAVE — Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency — in partnership with the California Fire Foundation, a non-profit that provides emotional and financial assistance to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Rusty Coffelt, AF&R Capt. Paramedic Robert McClellan and Firefighter James Ramirez joined Long Beach and Monrovia fire and civic officials, along with state fire service leaders, to introduce the SAVE program at a news conference in Long Beach.
“Our fire stations are throughout the community, and when our neighbors suffer a loss, we share that loss,” Coffelt said at the news conference. “SAVE is our way of showing kindness to our neighbors.”
Added McClellan, who also serves as president of the Anaheim Firefighters Association Local 2899: “The California Fire Foundation does a lot for our firefighter families and the communities we protect. We’re excited to work with the foundation and with our department to offer help to fire victims.”
SAVE is financed entirely through private and corporate donations made through the California Fire Foundation. Chevron Inc. is a major corporate donor.
Here’s how SAVE works:
AF&R battalion chiefs will carry SAVE cards and once an incident has been brought under control, they will determine the extent of damage.
If the property where the victim lives is found to exceed a 25 percent loss, the incident commander will present a $100 SAVE MasterCard to the victim (one SAVE card per household).
SAVE is designed to provide an “arm around the shoulder” by allowing disaster victims immediate access to $100 for essentials.
The Red Cross responds in times of crisis but it can takes hours for a Red Cross volunteer to assist a victim who declares he or she has no place to stay for the night after a disaster.
SAVE is not meant to replace Red Cross assistance but supplement it, officials said.
“There’s more to the fire service than just putting out fires,” Coffelt said.
“Together with the California Fire Foundation, we hope to have a lasting impact on the individuals we serve during and after an incident.”
For more information on the SAVE program, visit www.anaheim.net/fire or www.afa2899.org. Individuals wishing to contribute to SAVE may do so through the California Fire Foundation, either by check or online at www.cafirefoundation.org. Any donations should indicate that it is intended for SAVE, either on the check or in the online comments section.Corporate sponsors are welcome to partner with the foundation to support the program. Those interested can contact Executive Director Hedi Jalon at the California Fire Foundation at email@example.com.Individuals and/or businesses also can underwrite SAVE in their community. Contact Jalon for more information.