LUMBERTON — Lumberton firefighters who dined at Firehouse Subs on Tuesday afternoon took home more than just leftovers — they also hauled back to their department 10 sets of turnout gear donated by the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
The $18,000 worth of gear includes boots, gloves, pants, coats and helmets and will allow the Lumberton Fire Department to outfit additional firefighters and “put more people on the scene quicker,” according to Assistant Chief Murray West.
“This allows us to go out and recruit some volunteers and some part-time personnel,” West said while thanking franchise owners Larry and Jody Chandler and Robin Peters, director of the Public Safety Foundation.
According to West, having the additional equipment means five part-time volunteers can now work as full-time firefighters, bringing the total full-time force to 51. The turnout gear can last up to 10 years.
“You guys dedicate your lives to saving ours, you should have the best equipment possible,” Peters told the group of about 10 firefighters. ” … We’re really thrilled to be able to support you.”
Paul Chavis, who has been a Lumberton firefighter for seven years, said while the turnout gears adds about 40 pounds of additional weight to a firefighter, having the equipment donated takes a serious burden off the department and the city.
West said the department is grateful to have a Firehouse Subs near by — the restaurant chain, which was founded by firefighters, donates to departments where its franchises are located.
“To have one here in town helped our odds of getting grants,” said West, who eats at the restaurant about once a week and recommends the No. 6.
The department’s mascot, Sparky the Dog, attended the restaurant’s grand opening and the department has since donated surplus items to the restaurant for displays.
Money for the Public Safety Foundation is raised through the sale of leftover, five-gallon pickle buckets for $2. Additionally, customers can donate at registers or sign up for the Round Up Program, which allows customers to round up their bill to the nearest dollar and donate the difference. Each October, Firehouse Subs locations hold a Public Safety Campaign fundraiser, during which customers can purchase $1 and $5 medallions to be displayed in a restaurant.
“We’re trying to continue to drive more and more donations because you never know whose lives are going to be saved by you all,” Larry Chandler said.
Since 2005, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has given more than $14 million to fire departments in 43 states and Puerto Rico, including more than $662,560 in North Carolina. For information about the foundation, visit firehousesubs.com/foundation.
The Lumberton Fire Department was recently awarded a $37,720 Assistance to Firefighters Grant, which will be used to buy 42 pairs of boots, 57 flashlights and four Rapid Intervention Firefighter Rescue Packs.