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Foundation formed to support RSF Fire District’s efforts

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RSF Firefighters participate in a variety of events to help the community.

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District (RSFFPD) recently announced the formation of a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, according to a news release. Thanks to dedicated community leaders, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire District Foundation (RSFFDF) will provide necessary tools and equipment to better serve the citizens of the district. The Foundation formed when Elfin Forest Harmony Grove Fire Department (EFHGFD) consolidated with RSFFPD.

“It is exciting to be able to support all of the great work and people of the Fire District,” said Jim Depolo, president of the RSFFDF and previous EFHG Fire board member. “We look forward to getting out in the community more with new fundraising programs and trust the generous people of the community will see the value of their donations right here in their own Fire District. Living where we do and seeing all the devastation caused by wildfires over the past few years, we know we can never be too prepared. Donations of any amount will help us with this endeavor.”

Donations to the RSFFDF are tax deductible and directly support the work of the RSFFPD firefighters, paramedics, and fire prevention personnel. The Fire District and the citizens are already benefiting from the donation of a new drone, which is being used to create training and area familiarization videos, as well as personal protective equipment and a septic system for Station 6.

“We were pleased to donate one particularly unique piece of equipment and a cancer preventative tool called a detox sauna, designed to be used by firefighters after a fire. This detox unit assists firefighters in getting rid of dangerous carcinogens, which are absorbed through their skin while fighting fires,” explained Depolo.

The Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance states that exposure to heat can increase the skin’s ability to absorb carcinogens. In fact, “with every 5 degrees in increased body temperature, skin absorption rates can increase by as much as 400 percent.” As Fire Engineering stated in a June 2015 article, “This increase essentially turns us into a human sponge, and the toxins that are absorbed through our gear have a direct path into our bodies.”

According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, “Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today. Cancer caused 61 percent of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from Jan. 1, 2002, to March 31, 2017, according to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters. Heart disease caused 18 percent of career line-of-duty deaths for the same period.” Limiting exposure to carcinogens and removing them from the body is imperative.

The Foundation is considering other projects as well, including installing solar panels to help the Fire District reduce its carbon footprint and save on operational costs.

“It takes a lot of electricity to operate our facilities and equipment,” explained Fire Chief Fred Cox. “Solar panels would help the district off-set some of our utility costs and allow us to use that money elsewhere while making a positive impact on the environment.”

Additionally, the district has started replacing heavy hydraulic vehicle extrication equipment, also known as the “jaws of life,” with new lighter, more versatile, battery-powered models with tremendous success. Extrication set-up times have been reduced by up to 70 percent, allowing firefighters to take a vehicle apart, gain access to the patient, and transport them to the hospital more quickly. The foundation and the district are hoping to equip the remaining three engines with these lifesaving tools.

All donations are tax deductible and can be made by contacting RSFFDF at 858-367-0856 or online at www.rsffirefoundation.org. — News release