Lifesaving equipment to reach firefighters sooner

  • Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation co-founder Laura Mallery-Sayre stands with Hawaii Fire Department personnel after the nonprofit donated in 2018 two sets of "Jaws of Life" to the department. (Cameron Miculka/West Hawaii Today)

  • Hawaii County Lifeguard Ben Fisher patrols Hapuna Beach on an ATV donated by the Daniel R Sayre Memorial Foundation in 2018. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today, file)

  • Kahaluu Beach Park Ocean Safety Officer Tony Finley uses the PA system donated through the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation in 2018. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • This Howe and Howe’s 4x4 Bulldog Fire Truck that can traverse any terrain, lava rock included, was gifted by the Daniel R Sayre Memorial Foundation to the Waimea Fire Station in 2019. (Courtesy photo)

  • Laura Mallery-Sayre and Dr. Frank Sayre address the crowd at the 22nd Annual Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation Awards Ceremony Aug. 31, 2019, at the Fairmont Orchid. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

When lifesaving equipment like Jaws of Life extrication tools are donated to the Hawaii Fire Department but then sit months in a warehouse until the paperwork is completed and the donation is formally accepted by the County Council, something needs to change.

That’s the thinking behind a resolution sponsored by Council Chairman Aaron Chung and South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David providing a blanket acceptance of all future donations by the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation. The measure, Resolution 468, was unanimously approved Wednesday by the council, after words of appreciation and thanks from council members.


“I think it’s the least we can do as a body because what you folks do for the Fire Department and the community should not be held up by mere paper-pushing,” David said.

“It’s too bad that it took 22 years for this to happen,” added Chung. “When we’re dealing with potentially lifesaving equipment, it’s in the best interest of the county to move as expeditiously as we can.”

The foundation was established in 1997 by Dr. Frank Sayre and Laura Mallery-Sayre in memory of their son who died in a tragic hiking accident at Pololu Valley that year and in honor of the Hawaii County Fire Department rescue team who worked tirelessly to recover him.

Since that time, the foundation has donated more than $5 million to provide equipment and training to firefighters.

“You have such gracious and generous hearts,” Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas told the Sayres.

“That’s $5M worth of assets that you’ve infused into this community,” Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said. “I don’t know how to thank you enough. This is overwhelming, really.”

The resolution requires the Finance Department to report all donations to the council within 30 days. And it doesn’t prevent the council from producing ceremonial resolutions accepting donations as it sees fit.

That could happen often, said North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff.

“We really can’t say enough about the work the Sayre Foundation has done to provide the Fire Department with much-needed equipment,” Eoff said. “We really want you to come so we can thank you for each and every donation ceremoniously.”

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