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Local Firefighters Launch SAVE Program to Aid Victims of Disaster

Local firefighters are adding another layer to their heroic efforts; A special blend of compassion and generosity in the form of plastic.

The announcement came Thursday morning in front of fire station one in Santa Barbara.

The city of Santa Barbara and Ventura County are partnering with the non-profit California Fire Foundation to bring aid to victims of catastrophic fire and disaster.

“Whether it’s something as simple as giving them a way to buy a meal, giving them a place to be for awhile or maybe just putting a shelter over their heads for that night,” said Santa Barbara City Fire Chief Pat McElroy.

Local firefighters say the non-profit foundation is top-notch, known for personally helping firefighters and now, their communities.

The program is called SAVE, an acronym for Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency with on-the-spot assistance in the form of a $100 dollar MasterCard SAVE card.

“They’re giving firefighters a tool to help fire victims in their hour of greatest need,” said Chris Mahon, President of Ventura County’s Professional Firefighters.

Designated incident commanders will carry the gift cards that will be given to people who’ve lost at least 25 percent of their property, whether they rent or own.

Tony Pighetti, President of Santa Barbara City Firefighters, said the moments right after the flames are out are often hardest on the victims.

“You can console them and tell them we really feel bad for what they’ve just gone through,” said Pighetti. “Through this program we’ll be able to give a little more.”

The City of Santa Barbara and Ventura County are among 30 fire stations in California implementing SAVE.

“While we haven’t distributed a card yet, we will soon,” said McElroy. “I want our people to feel they have the latitude in choosing situations where it’ll be appropriate.”

Pighetti is credited with honing in on the need and benefits of SAVE.

The $100 dollar cards will help victims during that small window before the Red Cross arrives.

The majority of the funds for SAVE come from Chevron, Inc.

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