By CAROLYN LUCAS-ZENK
Stephens Media Hawaii
Generous public support and an untiring effort by the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation has led to more than $100,000 for the Hawaii County Fire Department. The funds were raised at the nonprofit foundation’s benefit dinner and awards at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii.
Laura Mallery-Sayre, the foundation’s co-founder, said it was the best and biggest event, with 461 attendees and all items on the Fire Department’s wish list are being funded.
Sixteen years ago, Mallery-Sayre and her husband, Frank, created the foundation in honor of their son, Daniel, who died in a hiking accident in Pololu Valley in 1997. Its mission is to help raise funds for emergency rescue equipment and training, as well as acknowledge the heroism of area firefighters and rescue personnel. Seventeen honorees were recognized at this year’s event.
Annually, the foundation works closely with Fire Chief Darren Rosario, Waiakea and Kailua-Kona Fire Station captains, and Ocean Safety Division officials to determine the essential gear, tools and training that would better support the department. This year’s wish list totaled $57,033.45.
Rosario thanked all the donors and the foundation for making the attainment of the earmarked equipment a reality. He described the Sayres as being like family to all those in the Fire Department and admired how the Kona couple has helped make a difference in the community. He said the department does a fine job providing the necessary services with what it has, but this latest contribution allows it to procure top-of-the-line, innovative equipment that will enhance its operations.
For instance, the $1,400 acoustic diver recall system and $842 diver-to-diver alert system, will help the Fire Department in its search for victims in extremely rough conditions or zero visibility. The systems allow rescuers to signal divers from the surface while they are submerged or alert one another, allowing diver accountability and critical communication to be maintained, according to the wish list submitted by the Waiakea Fire Station captains.
Getting such equipment and training has been difficult because of the financial constraints in the county and nationwide. The Fire Department’s budget comprises of county, state and private source funding. Over the past several years, the department has been offered “a status quo budget” with no new line items, as well as a supplemental budget should any funding become available, Rosario said.
The biggest contribution last Saturday was from the Ironman Foundation, which donated $12,502 for the long-range communication system for Hapuna Beach. The system will allow for better broadcast safety messages and other information, including shark sightings and hazards such as high surf, to beachgoers and swimmers, Rosario said. Currently, ocean safety personnel at Hapuna Beach are using megaphones donated by the foundation three years ago, Mallery-Sayre said.
Other notable donations included $5,000 from the PGA Mitsubishi Golf Tournament at Hualalai; $4,800 from Paradise Helicopters; and $3,000 from Bike Works. State legislators donated the nearly $950 for the seven binoculars and Councilwoman Brenda Ford donated money for three automatic defibrillators, which cost $2,055 each.
The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, donated the space for the event, of which it also was a partner, Mallery-Sayre said.
Mallery-Sayre said the purchased equipment will make a tremendous difference in the life-saving rescues and likely their outcomes, as well lessen the risk for rescuers. She also expressed gratitude for all who have helped make the foundation’s fundraiser a success annually.
Email Carolyn Lucas-Zenk at firstname.lastname@example.org.