By Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Norman Fire Department received a donation Tuesday from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in the form of an All-Terrain Vehicle.
Fire Chief James Fullingim started up the engine to the fire department’s new Gator ATV and tested the flashing lights and loud siren.
Fullingim said it’s hard to convince people that a vehicle like this is not a toy. Even though it looks like a toy, it will be put to good use.
“The city likes to sell themselves as ‘The City of Festivals,’ and we have a lot of things going on,” he said, listing off numerous events, such as Jazz in June, May Fair, the Medieval Fair, Norman Music Festival, lots of parades and the University of Oklahoma’s home football games every fall.
“We have large crowds and we have difficulty maneuvering through those crowds, so this is what we can use to get through the crowds,” Fullingim said.
The gator carries medical equipment they can use to transport a sick or injured person out of the crowds, as well as a water tank they can use to put out small fires, he said.
“We can also use it for wildfires. There’s some places it’s difficult to even get the small trucks to,” he said.
Jim Costello, Firehouse Subs franchisee and area representative, said they were happy to help out and try to help Norman Fire Department with items that the city council can’t fund.
“We’re thankful for you guys and the work that you do and also really happy with being able to help out,” Costello said. “We are absolutely supportive of first responders.”
Costello told several stories about how the foundation helped fund things for first responders that ended up saving lives.
“So you never know what that little Gator vehicle out there is going to do. It’s gonna save somebody’s life, whether it’s you guys or a citizen that you serve,” he said.
Robin Peters, executive director of Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, also said she was happy they could help by donating the ATV.
“I just want to thank all of you here today for what you do. We’re thrilled to be able to give back in some way, and hopefully this ATV, it’s going to be able to protect your lives and save others,” she said.
Peters also discussed how the foundation began.
Firehouse Subs was founded by two former firefighters and brothers, Chris and Robin Sorenson. In 2005, they went to Mississippi to help after Hurricane Katrina.
“They went there thinking they were just going to feed firefighters, but when they got there, it was much bigger than anything they expected,” Peters said.
They ended up feeding not only firefighters but also victims and volunteers. After spending eight days there, they made their way back home after hardly sleeping and not bathing, she said.
“They were deeply, deeply changed after that,” Peters said. “They said, ‘You know what? We’re in the position to do something special,’ and that’s when they established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.”
With the foundation, they made a commitment of giving back to first responders.
Knowing the Norman Fire Department helped respond to tornadoes that devastated the area in May, the foundation wanted to give back, Peters said said.
For those who want to continue raising money to support first responders, each Firehouse Subs restaurant recycles leftover, five-gallon pickle buckets and sells them to guests for $2.
Donation canisters on register counters explain the nonprofit’s mission and collect spare change; the Round Up Program allows guests to “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar. All funds raised benefit the foundation.
For more information, visit firehousesubs.com.
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