Local Business Welcomes Donation to Ukraine Firefighters – Morgan Hill Times

A Morgan Hill business owner recently teamed up with firefighters and volunteers from across the Bay Area to donate essential equipment to fire departments in war-torn Ukraine.

Shawn Sahbari, president and CEO of Komodo Fire Systems, Inc., got involved in the effort through his friend and company technical advisor, retired Menlo Park Fire Chief , Harold Schapelhouman. “Chief Harold” asked Sahbari months ago if he could help donate supplies and equipment to Ukrainian firefighters, Sahbari recalled.

“The concept was for the American firefighters to help the Ukrainian firefighters by just giving them used equipment, but good equipment, which we hope they can use,” Sahbari said. “I said if there was anything we could do to give some hope to people who are suffering from this kind of suffering, then it is certainly the least we can do.”

The effort culminated in a rally Aug. 11 at Komodo Fire Systems headquarters on Jarvis Drive, where firefighters and volunteers from across the state helped load donated items onto a 40-foot shipping crate. From there, the supplies began their journey to the eastern European nation which has suffered from a backed invasion by neighboring Russian forces since February.

Items donated included everything from helmets, hand tools, clothing and other firefighting supplies.

The effort began in April, with Schapelhouman and others contacting agencies about the need for tools in Ukraine.

Schapelhouman said his position as an immigrant and husband of a half-Ukrainian woman brought the issue of war in Ukraine closer together.

The former fire chief, who also worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for Urban Search and Rescue, believes no matter what, those carrying out rescue work in Ukraine need help.

With many efforts to help Ukraine in other ways, Schapelhouman wanted to focus on firefighting equipment, which can be hard to come by.

Schapelhouman said donations of usable equipment are pouring in from fire departments and agencies in the Bay Area and beyond, including the San Francisco Fire Department and San Mateo Consolidated Fire Department. .

Other donors of equipment and volunteer assistance include San Francisco Fire Department Local 798, Sacramento Metro Fire District, FireNuggets.com, Central Marin Fire Department, Reserves of the San Francisco Fire Department, City College of San Francisco Fire Science Department, Los Bomberos of San Francisco, and United Women of the Fire Service.

Volunteers also included budding firefighters and a church group, performing tasks ranging from heavy lifting to cleaning and organizing.

“That’s the good part of getting the job done is seeing people come together for a common cause and being able to make them feel satisfied that they were part of something worthwhile,” Schapelhouman said. .

The retired chef added that a key aspect of the operation was making the right contacts on the loaded shipping container’s journey to Ukraine, to ensure the shipment reached its destination. . The container is on its way to Poland before its contents are dispersed to different areas of need in Ukraine.

“It shows that at least they have firefighters here who are thinking of them,” Sahbari added.

Once the items have reached Ukrainian firefighters safely, their Bay Area counterparts plan to continue the effort with another donation. Sahbari said the operation is already in its early stages and he hopes to help again.

Shawn Sahbari, president and chief executive officer of Komodo Fire Systems, Inc., is pictured August 22 at the company’s headquarters in Morgan Hill. Photo: Michael Moore

Komodo Fire Systems moved to Morgan Hill about two years ago, and some of the company’s patented firefighting products have become commercially available over the past year, Sahbari said. The company was founded on the growing need to solve the problem of wildfires in the western United States from a “holistic approach” that respects the environment and can prevent mass loss of property and lives.

Sahbari said the location of CalFire’s Santa Clara unit in Morgan Hill was a factor in his decision to move Komodo’s headquarters from Gilroy.

“Komodo was designed as a preventative solution,” Sahbari said. “We saw the problem of wildfires as a regional and global issue and it was expanding year by year in terms of the number and size of fires, and how long they were burning.”

Bay City News, Inc., 2022.

Gladys T. Hensley