RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District recently formed the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, with the sole purpose of providing the district with the tools and equipment it needs to enhance community protection. When the Elfin Forest-Harmony Grove Fire Department absorbed into the district nearly a year ago, forming the foundation was a natural segue to assist its firefighters with resources and equipment.
According to President Jim Depolo, the foundation provides additional resources above and beyond what taxes pay provide for a fire department.
Depolo, who is a resident of Elfin Forest, said that district residents are surprised to learn that even with the amount of taxes they do pay, there is still a shortfall.
“In our fire district, we have an urban-wildland interface — we certainly have seen in recent years how quickly wildland fires develop and the danger it poses,” Depolo said. “So, our purpose is to help provide better education, better training, and better resources regarding equipment and other things that could be used for the fire department which helps all of us in the district.”
The advancements in fire protection are ongoing. Depolo said the foundation was thrilled to donate a detox sauna — a unit designed for firefighters to use after battling a blaze. In hot temperatures, firefighters are at risk for carcinogen exposure both through skin and inhalation. The detox unit assists in flushing out these carcinogens.
“When their body temperatures go up, they can rid themselves of those toxins much more quickly and effectively,” Depolo said.
Depolo said that providing the detox sauna wasn’t in the district’s budget, but the foundation was able to fill that financial gap to help support firefighter safety.
More recently, on Jan. 16., the foundation presented a $110,000 check for a new septic system at the Elfin Forest Fire Station. The current system is 30 years old and in need of repair.
Other items the foundation is considering for the district are solar panels as well as replacing traditional “jaws of life” with a new generation model which is lighter in weight, battery-powered and has more precision.
Depolo wants community members to know that their involvement in its newly formed foundation is vital. The first step is raising awareness that it exists, and donations are both welcomed and encouraged.
For those interested in being on the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District Foundation board, Depolo said it is looking for new members.
“We actually have a couple of board seat openings that will be available, so we are always interested in talking with new people,” Depolo said.
Looking ahead, the foundation also plans to have fundraisers, so Depolo encourages anyone with fundraising experience to connect with them.
“We hope that the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District Foundation becomes more known in the community. We appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to having people get involved in something that is important to us all,” Depolo said.
To learn more about the RSFFDF, visit RSFFireFoundation.org or call (858) 367-0856.