Firefighters Alliance benefit features Travolta film

Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance to host the premiere benefit of Ladder 49 at the Arlington Theatre Sept. 30

Ladder 49 poster

Ladder 49 poster

What started out a few months ago with a simple drink at Holdren’s, is quickly igniting into a new nonprofit, the Santa Barbara Firefighter’s Alliance.

“We should really try to do something to support the firefighters,” was Betty Stephens‘ initial thought after meeting with City Fire Captain Franc Chacon and County Fire Captain Dave Sadecki last spring. The idea quickly uh, caught fire, and soon Stephens had herself a working board of volunteers eager to assist local fire agencies by raising money to buy them the up-to-date equipment and safety gear the government no longer provides. The alliance also wants to assist firefighters and their families who suffer catastrophic circumstances.

The firefighters are always doing so much for everyone else, it’s just time we did something for them, said Stephens. “They’re the most humanitarian people as a group that you can find. … I think the firefighters are sort of like Sara Lee. Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee and nobody doesn’t like the fire fighters.”

Many of the board members have themselves experienced the dangers that firefighters face every day. For example, Seymour Fletcher had his home on Refugio Road threatened by the recent Gaviota fire and Margie Niehaus and her husband survived the attack of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

It’s actually amazing what a broad spectrum of the community has have become involved in the organization because they’ve been touched by the work that firefighters do, said board member Andy Rosenberger.

Supporters include the students at Santa Barbara High’s Multimedia Academy. Senior Aimee Pepper designed the organization’s logo and is working with fellow seniors Chase Kidd and Michael Vierra to develop a website.

Initially the group planned to have its first event — the Fireball 2005 — in January, but board member Bruce Corwin, who owns the local Metropolitan Theatres, was able to get Touchstone Pictures to donate the firefighting-themed film for a benefit performance next week.

“We weren’t even counting on this Ladder 49 premiere,” said board member Arlene Geeb. “It’s just a wonderful thing that happened.”

The benefit screening of the film, which stars John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix, will be held Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre, with a Chief’s Reception at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $100 for preferred seating and the reception. Tickets are available at the Arlington Box Office, Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 963.4408, or online at

For more information about the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance call 967.6294 or 685.1432.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

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