HESPERIA - Firehouse Subs was the scene of a five-alarm donation event where the eatery presented local first responders with thousands of dollars in life-saving safety equipment.
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation awarded the Hesperia Sheriff's Station and San Bernardino County Fire Protection District items such as a large swift water rescue boat and multiple LED flares during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new restaurant on Thursday in Hesperia.
Co-owners Dan Aparekka and Marsha Chatterjee told the group of first responders, community leaders and city officials they were honored to make the donation on behalf of Firehouse Subs and the many customers who contributed to the foundation.
"This is the first time we tried to do a fundraiser while opening a new store," said Aparekka, at the newest eatery located at the Hesperia Marketplace Shopping Center on Main Street. "We decided to move forward with the fundraiser and the community really came through."
As he stood in front of a large, yellow inflated rescue boat in the parking lot of the restaurant, Aparekka said customer support for the fundraiser pushed the Hesperia store "well past its goal."
Mayor Bill Holland told the group the Sheriff's station received LED flares worth $2,500. The awarded devices will provide illumination in all weather conditions and are safer than traditional flares.
County Fire received a swift water rescue boat and flotation devices worth $6,722. The awarded equipment will be used in water rescue missions during torrential rainstorms, severe flooding and flash floods, as well as in area lakes, streams and rivers, allowing the district's urban search and rescue team to reach victims easier and faster.
Aparekka, who said he was thankful for the support of the community and the Hesperia Economic Development Department, added that since the store opened in April he's witnessed first responders putting "their lives on the line" to battle the Pilot and Bluecut fires.
"Thank you for all that you do," said Aparekka as he gestured toward the groups of deputy sheriffs and firefighters gathered near a large fire engine and patrol vehicle.
During the event, Firehouse Subs area representatives Jeff Press and Jim Fick were on hand to cut a dedication cake and serve sandwiches to their guests.
The Hesperia store collects money for the local public safety agencies by selling empty 5-gallon pickle buckets. Donations are also accepted online at firehousesubs.com.
Firehouse Subs Restaurant is at 13325 Main St. in Hesperia. For more information, visit the company website or call 760-983-5512.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.