RIVERSIDE, CA- When first responders answer the call in a fire or disaster, the job doesn’t end when the fire is out. Many times, firefighters wind up comforting families that have suffered a great loss. Firefighters always wish they could do more. Now they can.
Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) allows local firefighters to give on-the-spot aid to families and individuals who suffer substantial property loss in a fire or a major disaster. Created and funded by the non-profit California Fire Foundation, SAVE provides departments with Mastercard gift cards that can be activated right at the scene.
“As firefighters, we often have the sad duty to be with people on the worst day of their lives,” said Lou Paulson, chair of the California Fire Foundation and a retired Contra Costa firefighter. “By offering SAVE cards to those who have lost so much, firefighters are able to help people take the first step toward rebuilding their lives.”
At a news conference at Riverside’s Canyon City Fire Station # 14, Inland Empire fire departments announced their participation in the unique partnership. The Riverside City, Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino City Fire Departments are among 30 departments statewide that have agreed to participate in SAVE. The $100 Mastercard SAVE cards are carried by incident commanders to residential fire and disaster calls. If the occupancy loss is 25 percent or more of total value, a SAVE card can be activated right at the scene.
SAVE cards were issued to 30 California fire departments in late August, following a successful test of the program in the Sacramento area. To date, more than 45 families touched by tragedy have been helped through the program.
SAVE is open to all California fire departments, paid and volunteer, subject to an agreement between the Foundation and employer and employee representatives. The Foundation continues to raise funds and seek additional sponsorships to bring SAVE cards to more communities and, eventually, increase the face value of the cards. Individuals interested in contributing can go to SAVE.cafirefoundation.org.