KAILUA-KONA — The Hawaii Fire Department is requesting the corporation behind the Ironman World Championship help cover the costs it incurred during the big race Oct. 12
An estimated $7,000 is needed for overtime expenses related to providing emergency services to the public — residents and visitors alike — who descended upon the downtown Kailua-Kona area for the race that began early with a 2.6-mile swim and didn’t end until after midnight Sunday when the last runners crossed the finish line, Fire Chief Darren Rosario said.
The county denied the department’s request for overtime funding for the race.
“We did put in a request to Ironman to assist us with funding of our overtime,” he told Hawaii County Fire Commission members Wednesday during a meeting at the West Hawaii Civic Center. “We haven’t gotten a response back it as it goes through a corporate organization.”
For the past eight to 10 years, the department has strategically placed personnel, including an incident commander and four ground teams, within the Kailua Village area to handle calls for help in the race area. The ground teams utilize a John Deere Gator off-road rescue vehicle, which was donated to the department by Ironman, to move any patients needing transport for further care to predetermined “catchment areas” reachable by ambulance.
The effort, he said, reduces the call-load to the Kailua Fire Station so staff there are not tied up and can respond to incidents within the larger community. The services are for the public, not athletes, who are handled by American Medical Response.
“We put personnel there because the impact to 911 systems is quite significant during that period,” Rosario said.
Ironman is just one of many events during which the fire department is requested to provide support each year. The department tries its best to cover the events with on-duty personnel, however, that’s not always possible, Rosario said.
“The events that we are unable to cover with on-duty support are done on overtime, but we generally reach out and request funds or support from the organizations that are hosting the events,” he explained.
Rosario said he also requested assistance in contingency funds from Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, who informed him to seek reimbursement first from Ironman before looking at expenditure of the contingency monies.
Ironman didn’t respond to request for comment.