Firefighters in dozens of California communities can now help families victimized by fire or natural disaster take a small first step toward rebuilding their lives.
Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) offers on-the-spot aid to families and individuals who suffer substantial property loss in a fire, eartquake or other disaster. Created and funded by the non-profit California Fire Foundation, SAVE provides participating departments with MasterCard gift cards that can be activated at the scene so victims and their families can get a hot meal, buy some clothes or maybe someplace to stay the night.
“In the first 24 hours after a fire or disaster, victims need a lot of things in a short amount of time,” said Lou Paulson, chair of the California Fire Foundation and a retired Contra Costa firefighter. “SAVE gives firefighters a way to help people through what is often the worst day of their lives.”
The $100 SAVE cards are carried by local battalion chiefs to every residential fire and disaster call. If occupancy loss is 25 percent or more of total value, a SAVE card can be activated right at the scene. Thirty California fire departments have signed up to participate in SAVE. To date, more than 45 families have already been helped.
“As first responders, we’re in a unique position to offer a little extra ‘arm around the shoulder’ at a very tough time,” said Michael Duree, chief of the Long Beach Fire Department. “SAVE lets us offer that support.”
“We’ve all been there in the middle of the night when there’s a family in their bathrobes and bare feet and they have nothing,” added Brian Rice, president of Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522. “We can’t restore all they’ve lost, but we can help them through those first difficult 24 hours.”