OCEANSIDE — Firehouse Subs restaurant opened in March and reached out to help the community in a big way shortly after it began business.
Through its franchise foundation the restaurant donated $9,100 to purchase equipment for the fire department Blue Card Incident Command Certification training program.
Upon opening the restaurant located at 2619 Vista Way owner Bill Mutz contacted the fire department to ask if the department needed anything and to inform firefighters about the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation grant program.
The foundation awards yearly grants of up to $20,000 to public safety agencies across the U.S.
Funds are raised at all 548 Firehouse Subs franchise restaurants.
Then the foundation board of directors reviews requests and decides where funds can be put to the best use.
Giving back to the community has always been part of the restaurant chain’s culture. The first Firehouse Subs restaurant opened in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1994. The original restaurant owners came from a long lineage of firefighters and their business focus included giving to the community.
The theme of firefighters is clearly visible in the restaurant. Tabletops at the Oceanside restaurant have a dalmatian print and historic photos of Oceanside Fire Department crews line the walls. In the center of the restaurant there is an oversized five by ten foot print of local firefighters battling the Cedar Fire.
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was formed after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. It was established in order to have an organized way to raise funds and distribute them.
Since then yearly grants have been awarded to fire departments, police departments, schools and other public safety groups.
This year the Oceanside Fire Department Blue Card training program was one of the grant recipients. It is also one of a dozen such training programs in the nation.
“It’s a big deal in the fire service community,” Battalion Chief Felipe Rodriguez said. “It’s the only one in California. People visit it from all across the country to see it as a training model.”
“Without Firehouse Subs we would not have been able to complete it as quickly as we did,” he added. “They’re a big part in making it happen.”
The program uses a computer based simulator and real time radio communication responses to train fire captains to direct crews to respond to an all hazards incident. Firefighters said that the dangers of an all hazards incident could not be realistically reenacted without the simulator.
Key to the training program are the radios and communication command center purchased with the $9,100 donation from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
“It may not be warm and fuzzy when you first hear about it, but they’re really happy that they have that equipment available,” Robin Peters, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation executive director, said. “These guys will be ready when the situation comes up. If they’re not efficient they loose time and lives are at stake.”
Firehouse Subs received a public thank you from the fire department on Oct. 23. The restaurant also celebrated joining the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.
Rodriguez said he is grateful for the donation.
He added that the community has stepped up in unexpected ways to help the fire department at the same time city budget cuts have forced department layoffs and shrunk the department budget.
In addition to the generous donation from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, Home Depot also stepped up and donated materials and labor to complete major renovations to the training site building on 110 Jones Road.
“They converted the trailer on the site into a training center,” Rodriguez said. “They did everything for free from paint to lumber and construction. Without them we would have been completely lost as far as having a facility let alone a program.”
The donation by Home Depot was another case of a business asking the fire department what it needed and stepping up to fulfill that need.
“Everyone has had to do more with less,” Rodriguez said. “For businesses to step up and go above and beyond that reflects our community.”