Helping our heroes

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation grant means new tools for Hanceville Fire and Rescue

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Left to right are Hanceville Assistant Fire Chief Bart Absher, Hanceville Councilwoman-Elect Patty Dean, Eli Bennefield, Shannon Hipp, Kristen Hewey, Holly Baker, Kimberly Phillips, Jason Hayles, Jim Cain, Hanceville Fire Chief Roger Green, Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail, Hanceville Councilman John Stam and Firehouse Subs Area Supervisor David Conklin David Conklin. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Hanceville Fire and Rescue welcomed representatives from Firehouse Subs Wednesday morning to unveil its new HURST extrication tools, made possible by a $33,000 grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Firehouse Subs personnel were treated to a tour of the fire station and an up-close look at the new tools. Firehouse also provided sandwiches to the department and guests.

The new tools include an eDRAULIC watertight cutter, spreader and ram. They are battery-powered and capable of being used underwater. Assistant Fire Chief Bart Absher said Hanceville is only the fourth fire department in the state of Alabama to have the new state-of-the-art equipment.

Absher explained during a demonstration, “With the newer cars, they had to design the cutters to do so much more.”

Each of the three tools came with a spare battery with a 45-minute, continuous-use battery life. The tools are also equipped with built-in lights.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was created in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

Area Supervisor David Conklin explained, “At the time, the founders and a bunch of people from the office, they loaded up on a bus and got one of our vendors to send an 18-wheeler full of food. They were headed to New Orleans and never made it. They got stopped in southern Mississippi and ended up spending three days feeding the community.”

Conklin said those who went to help were former firefighters and they realized on the trip that there is a tremendous need among all departments and first responders. They even sent a fire truck to a community they visited that lost everything in the hurricane. This was the beginning of the foundation. Conklin said that as of today, the Foundation has given $51 million in grants to departments around the country, “$2.6 million-plus just in the state of Alabama.”

The money for the grants comes from a percentage of all sales at Firehouse Subs, as well as the popularity of the restaurant’s “pickle buckets.” The buckets can be purchased, subject to availability, at each restaurant for $3.

“When you group a lot of small things together, you can do big things,” Conklin smiled. “It’s a great cause to be able to get out here and really see the impact and really be able to help communities that wouldn’t have been able to afford this.”

The newer extrication tools, the HURST tools, are the new “hot item,” according to Conklin, who said, “The technology changes, and when they told me a battery-powered extraction tool was more powerful than something running off hydraulic lines, I had a hard time believing it until I got to see it. That’s a quantum leap!”

Hanceville Fire Chief Roger Green added, “The old hydraulic, we kept in the back compartment and it leaked hydraulic oil and you had to drag out all the hose. These new ones, you just grab it and it’s ready to go.”

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation awards grants quarterly to fire departments, police departments and first responders.

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Firehouse Subs Area Supervisor David Conklin shows off a “pickle bucket.” (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)
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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com