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Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance Postpones Annual Fire Ball

Board decides overhead costs for the fundraising event were too high

After a lot of heartfelt deliberation, the board of the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance has decided to postpone the Fire Ball scheduled for Friday, Sept. 10 at the Coral Casino.

We apologize for the short notice but feel we have reached a decision that, while difficult, reflects our tradition and mission.

We have always taken great pride in the fact that 100 percent of the proceeds of our volunteer organization goes to purchase badly needed equipment for Santa Barbara firefighters. To that end, we have always kept our eye on the bottom line during our fundraising and limited our overhead costs to maximize the purchasing power of our donors who directed funds toward our local firefighters.

This year, because of a number of factors, it became apparent to our board that our Sept. 10 event was going to absorb a higher amount of overhead costs than we were willing to live with. When we feel that goal is not being met, it is our duty to make the tough call and regroup to where we can be most effective. We feel we owe that to our supporters.

During the past six years, the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance has purchased nearly $1 million worth of rescue equipment for our local firefighters. This has been due to the work of an entirely volunteer board and our firefighter partners. We have seen this equipment make a difference in the community.

The Santa Barbara County Fire helicopter pilots who conducted daring nighttime water drops during the Tea and Jesusita fires did so wearing night-vision goggles purchased by the alliance. Recently, during the tragic gravel truck accident at State Street and Highway 154, fire crews used saws, search cameras and listening devices — all purchased by the alliance. Riley, a newly trained Search and Rescue dog funded by the Firefighters Alliance, was also deployed to search for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

These are just a couple of examples of the positive role the Firefighters Alliance has played in the community.

Supporters will be contacted with new event information. We trust that they will respect our decision and the spirit in which it was made.

— Robert Niehaus is president of the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance.

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