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Donation Pumps Up Fire Department
Getting some financial assistance from an unexpected - but welcome - source, a $5000 donation to the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District will be used to buy much needed equipment.

"It's going to be used to buy technical rescue equipment," explained Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello. "Everything from confined space rescue to trench rescues, we will use it for harnesses, communications equipment."

The money came from Escalon Premier Brands, a division of Heinz North America. Presentation of an oversized check was made in a recent ceremony, the business represented at the donation by Scott Adrian, Plant Manager and Cynthia Barber, Operational Risk Manager, who presented the check to Chief Mello.

"We get donations from time to time," Mello said. "This is from H.J. Heinz, through their community grant program, usually the donations are given in communities where Heinz operates."

Mello said the money is earmarked for equipment that will help the department utilize all of its training.

"In 2008, 2009 we certified all of our full time staff in urban search and rescue," Mello explained.

Equipment can be 'search specific' and the money will be used to help buy items that are needed.

"It's stuff that we don't have," Mello said. "These are items that are great to have, but when it comes to the budget, sometimes you have to pass on them."

With the $5000 donation from Premier Brands via Heinz, some of that equipment can now be added.

The department still does training in the search and rescue and also has done some confined space rescue operations. Some of the training could actually be needed in case of an industrial accident or issue at a facility like Premier Brands, so Mello said the donation could ultimately benefit the donor organization.

For now, though, the equipment will be purchased and training continue, so crews will be ready to answer the call if - or when - the need arises.