The Seattle Fire Foundation
It’s always exciting to see the ground floor of a new initiative. When Rob Hash, president and co-owner of Viking Automatic Sprinkler Company, put me in touch with Debbie Steinhauer about a year ago, I caught a glimpse of an exciting beginning. Ms. Steinhauer had a vision to create an organization that supports the Seattle Fire Department in their mission to keep the city’s residents safe—a mission that has only grown increasingly complicated.
As we discussed the role of the new nonprofit support agency called the Seattle Fire Foundation, one critical need soon emerged: increasingly, firefighters are being called to violent scenes, sometimes arriving before police can secure the area. A recent incident that highlighted this need involved Seattle firefighters responding to an active shooter on a city bus. The responders had no personal ballistic protection but still needed to provide life-saving medical aid to victims while directly in the path of the shooter. Although the department owned a small number of bulletproof vests for just such an occurrence, the vests were stored in a station on the other side of the congested city. Fortunately, no first responders were hurt in this case.
When I thought of my firefighter nephew—a father of three—responding to such a chaotic scene without proper protection, it drove the message home to me that in this day and age, all first responders need to be prepared for the unknown—and that includes a hostile environment.
Under the direction of the energetic and charismatic Ms. Steinhauer, the Seattle Fire Foundation became a reality. It immediately set a goal to purchase ballistic vests and helmets specially designed for fire crews. The Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board of Puget Sound committed to underwriting a set of this gear.
In an article in NFSA’s next magazine, Rob Hash writes about why he, his wife Terri, and Viking Automatic Fire Sprinkler Co. support this effort. “As a private organization, the Seattle Fire Foundation has the flexibility to raise and allocate resources more nimbly than the city budget process—enabling them to identify and quickly fulfill the Seattle Fire Department’s pressing needs,” Mr. Hash writes.
In this increasingly turbulent time, it’s been a good feeling to show support directly to first responders. Be sure to check out the seattlefirefoundation.org to learn more.