by John Seelmeyer, Northern Nevada Business Weekly
There never was a question in the mind of Lisa Mortimeyer that she’d be moving the corporate headquarters of Flaresun Fire Group Inc. out of California.
“When you get out of the research-and-development phases, California is right on you,” says Mortimeyer, chief executive officer of the company that develops specialized fire and rescue equipment.
She ticks off the tax reasons to move — no personal income tax in Nevada, no corporate income tax, no inventory taxes — and says the two-year-old company now is looking to consolidate its operations in Reno.
The company’s first product, patented gear that helps rescue workers assist accident victims who are at the bottom of steep embankments — car accident victims who are in a deep ravine, for instance, or miners at the bottom of a shaft or pit.
Mortimeyer says the gear allows smaller teams of rescuers to bring victims to safety, and it allows much faster rescues than existing technology.
“Time runs out for that person who is down the bank,” she says.
The equipment can be used with any truck larger than a three-quarter-ton pickup. The product, dubbed the SwiftLift Victim Retrieval System, was demonstrated to crews from the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District about 10 days ago and Mortimeyer is gearing up for five scheduled demonstrations to mining executives across northeastern Nevada in coming weeks. It’s also getting some attention for potential military applications and for use in rescuing large animals.
The system was developed by firefighters in Willits, Calif. Flaresun Fire Group got the equipment ready for commercial applications from the company’s former headquarters at Ukiah, Calif. And then it was time to move.
“Our goal is to have all of our operations in Reno as soon as possible,” says Mortimeyer. “Nevada has been an instant catalyst for new business ideas and new growth.”
The small company’s operations currently are strung across the West Coast, with manufacturing operations in Portland, Ore.
But Flaresun isn’t just a manufacturer.
Early on, Mortimeyer says, the company’s founders realized that volunteer fire departments would be strapped to find $18,000 to purchase the SwiftLift Victim Retrieval System.
So Flaresun provides a turnkey fundraising system — Web sites, press releases, scheduled demonstrations — to its potential customers.
And Flaresun works with Community Leasing Partners of Manhattan, Kansas, to provide lease financing, a bridge that allows fire departments to get the retrieval system into operation even before they finish fundraising.
The company is developing more products for the fire and rescue markets.
“We go after the big problems, the ones that injure firefighters,” she says. “We want to be in every corner where there is a problem.”
So far, the company has been largely financed by its founders, with a smidgen of money from an outside investor.
A self-described serial entrepreneur, Mortimeyer says Flaresun has relied on sweat, and sweat equity, rather than cash to get itself going.
“We can easily account for every penny we’ve spent, because you could count them,” she says.
Bill O’Driscoll, Reno Gazette Journal
FlareSun Fire Group Inc. might be tiny, but it’s just what local economic development officials are looking for: new enterprise with potential to grow Northern Nevada roots.
Lisa Mortimeyer, CEO and majority shareholder of the maker of fire and rescue equipment, has fled Northern California for Reno, and on Tuesday she said production, when launched, will follow to the Truckee Meadows.
“Nevada has welcomed us with open arms,” she said. “Reno has a friendly vibe, not the standoffish arrogance California has when you’re trying to start a business.”
Flaresun Fire is dedicated to getting our equipment into the hands of fire departments and rescue personnel that need it. We have different ways of helping to fund the purchase of our premier item, the SwiftLift VRS, (Victim Retrieval System) If you would like to know more about this product, please view our video here. Through our website button, you can have your Fire Department’s name right there and Flaresun Fire will conduct marketing and a press release within your area so that members of your community can donate directly to your cause in conjunction with your own traditional fundraising event.
This is called the Flaresun Electronic Boot Drive™.
Every click on the button will lead your community members to a page that describes the equipment your department can buy using these donations. That way, those in the community that cannot make it to your physical fundraiser can go online and help you accomplish your goals. This is a program free of charge to the Fire Departments that sign up for it, and all it takes it a desire and need for our rescue equipment in your community.
So, a bigger audience can be attained by going to our Facebook page, “liking” our page and inviting your friends who wish to donate once we sign you up. This plan will help increase your efficiency in fundraising while not expending your valuable resources. The fundraising is done for you!
The proceeds collected from our website are sent directly to your department as a donation from Flaresun and your community will be recognized with another press release showing their support.
If you are interested in this helpful approach to obtaining this equipment, please mark the appropriate box below and we will send you information you request by email. Your community and it’s firefighters will thank you!
Yes, please send me information on your Electronic Boot Drive™ Program and assisted funding for your SwiftLift.
Yes, please send me information on a free demonstration of your Over-The-Bank Rescue system called the SwiftLift™ in my area.
Presented by the Fire Service Manufacturers and Vendors Association in conjunction with the Ken Little Appreciation Award.
Last year we had the honor of celebrating Ken Lopes as the first recipient of the Vendor Appreciation Award.The award was presented to Ken by Ken Little. Ken Little was one of the driving forces be-hind the California Fire Service Vendors Association and it was most fitting that Ken present the first award to Ken Lopas. Information about vendor nominations for the 2012 award will be coming out around April. Nominations can be made for achievements through a lifetime of work or extraordinary achievements throughout the past year within our industry. This award is of extreme significance to all of the members of the Fire Service Manufacturers and Vendors Association and a great way to say “Job Well Done” to one of our peers.
This year the award will be kept a surprise and the winner will be announced at the FSMVA Exhibitor’s Meeting on Thursday, October 25th at 8:30 a.m.
What is Happening to our Fire Service….
Actually, this title gives no face to those brave men and women that go to a job ever single day and wonder if they will come home. They pull us from underneath a crashed vehicle, pull us up steep embankments from a crash, rescue us from burning structures, perform medical aide when necessary and generally, save us from ourselves.They do it without question and without knowing who we are.
A firefighters world is getting less safe. Federal funding has continued to be slashed and firefighters are still being laid off, departments are forced to consolidate (which may or may not be the right thing to do), there isn’t enough money to buy necessary tools, get proper training or upgrade old engines. All of these cause safety issues for the firefighters, for the general public, or both.
I would like to believe that the average US citizen is NEVER out of control, our votes do count and we can take action and can “work around” an administration that has used a lack of funding to fire service and other first responders as a “tool” to make us feel like the government is the only thing that can save us. The fire service does not need to be a victim of a bully. I believe that the we can help fire service work around that. If, we are united in our efforts. “We” would be fire and rescue equipment manufacturers, the general public and the fire agencies themselves.
Unfortunately, I believe we have a complete disconnect by those that are wielding the ax in Washington, DC. I would challenge a bunch of them to be firefighters (or cops) for a two week stint after attending a few days of basic training…Like rural volunteers, “on call” almost all the time, interrupted sleep, not enough people, not the right tools for the job, not enough money because we have a poor economy and donations have dropped off. On top of all that, come the cuts in fed funding to fire departments. If these people see first hand what it’s like to have to rescue an over-the-bank car accident victim that’s 400 feet down the hill with 3 volunteers and mutual aid coming whenever they can get there, the stress of knowing the consequences may make a difference. They need to see how it is that you get 4 victims and a dog out of a raging house fire when you only have 3 volunteers on an engine. It’s not uncommon anymore and I have heard that sometimes they are rolling with 2 volunteers……not enough firefighters, not enough tools to be safe to do what they have to do. Maybe if they have to live the life for a couple of weeks, they would find something else to cut that doesn’t mean peoples lives.
So, how is it that we convince a group of faceless people at the top that do not live in the same world down here that we do? Isn’t nearly every politician living in Washington DC or in Sacramento, CA very much removed from the true dangers firefighters and other first responders already face? It’s obvious we can’t convince them by rising against them, and we don’t want to do away with the support that they are still providing, but we have to learn to augment that funding more efficiently, work more efficiently and adapt to our new surroundings in fire service.
Sometimes the best offense is just a much BETTER offense. So, we can’t change how government funding is doled out, but we do have other ways of dealing with it. It’s called necessity, adaptation, and ultimately, empowerment. How do we provide more options for our public service agencies that give us protection in our every day lives? We unite with them. We support them in ways that were before an unnecessary step because Big Brother was there.
As a small business designer and manufacturer of rescue equipment, we could starve out here as well. AFG (Associated Firefighter Grants) that were once easy to get if you took the time to write one and submit it is not a “given” anymore. Plus, many of those that wrote grants within the fire department walls are no laid off. Yes, there are outside services for this and we could wait for them or we could write one ourselves and hope it’s successful. It’s just not a sure bet because there is so much competition by all the other departments seeking the same funds.
Our dependency on government funding for basic necessities is much like it is with foreign oil. Gosh, what happens if they shut off the flow? We are finding out and paying with firefighters health, welfare and ultimately, lives and the consequences of lives lost because rescue cannot come soon enough. It’s reality.
Human nature dictates that we just begin the evolution process. What would happen if we took the bully-whip away from those that are cutting funds. I think we can by working around it and becoming less dependent. This part is called “necessity”. We must find a way to endure this nonsense to maintain safety. Now, it’s on to “adaptation”. What are some ways we can adapt and increase the safety of those in the brotherhood that remain?
This is fire service. A branch of public safety that has long lived in tradition where motto’s range from “Whatever it takes” to “Courage, Compassion, Service” and many others that show the true heart and courage of those that protect us. It is one of the most noble of professions and it is why we do what we do. What can we do to help them and help ourselves withstand these tough times?
First, we should acknowledge as a manufacturing public and as a general public that we need to help fire service keep the traditions that they depend on alive and well while increasing their ability to purchase advanced equipment and training and fund them so that we can help them increase safety. The process of advancing the equipment that will address current needs, and not what the needs were 5 years ago is a necessary evolution. We cannot live in denial. It’s a dangerous place. Its a fact that there are certainly not as many firefighters and the funding from the traditional source is now unpredictable. Being aware of this means we can address the problem.
Flaresun Fire Group is comprised of about 50% retired firefighters. We feel the needs of our sons, daughters, sisters and brothers that are in fire service and the challenges they face. We know that it’s not a an easy time. Our intention is to help whenever we can by providing ways to help them raise private funding for needed equipment, training or other priority items to make their job better and safer. We are here to provide alternatives to government funding and assist in creative financing and ultimately, our promise is to always create products that make their jobs a lot less dangerous.
As citizens, we can make sure we attend our local fire department fund raisers and if you can’t donate money, offer to donate time in fundraising efforts for them. Everything we can do will like that help make firefighting a safer job.
Since we cannot change the way the government treats fire service, fire service must become empowered and adapt to this paradigm shift. I encourage all other manufacturers to take the steps that we are to ensure they are supporting their local fire departments by assisting in raising funds for needed equipment or other goals if they aren’t doing so already.
Firefighters, we respect and support you. We appreciate the work you do every day in a job that is getting more dangerous due to funding cuts and we will assist those that are ready to think outside the box to solve the financial challenges you face.
I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and appreciate your service to our community. Thank you all for taking your time to read this blog.
L. Mortimeyer-CEO, Flaresun Fire Group
Fire and Rescue Magazine
November 2011 Edition
Over-bank lifting operations can take an hour to complete, with as many as eight responders — Until now.
Traditions that prevent technical advancement in the field of fire and rescue can prove to be deadly and expensive. The volunteers at Little Lake Fire Department (LLFD) in Willis (CA) recognized that, and by incorporating rope rescue training and skills with advanced high-angle, mobile design and mechanical assistance, they have created an “evolution” in the over-bank rescue.
The SwiftLift Victim Retrieval System was designed to reduce time and man-power while increasing the safety of victim rescues. It makes several major advances in victim retrieval and compared to the most current methods, is an evolutionary, safer way to retrieve victims in over-bank rescue operations. The SwiftLift system requires approximately 30% of the man-power currently needed with the Z-Pulley system. The average rescue with the SwiftLift System is completed in 10-15 minutes versus current over-bank rescue/retrieval using current ropes and pulleys, which can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes and usually requires up to eight first responders just at the top of the embankment to haul the victims up. There may be as many as six others lifting and guiding the basket.
The patent-pending SwiftLift VRS (victim retrieval system) consists of only a few parts that assemble within four minutes and it is easy to store on most engines. Maintenance of the SwiftLift system is minimal due to its rugged design. “What makes this a really great piece of equipment is not only do you get the high angle of the rope in an over-bank rescue, we use it to send down heavy tools for extrication and then to retrieve both victims and rescuers back to the top, delivering the victims in a fraction of the time to an ambulance. We have all seen it make the difference between life and death,” stated Battalion Chief, Chris Wilkes of LLFD.
Deputy Chief John Thomen added: “When we roll up to the location of the incident, we can park the engine parallel to the roadway and perform the rescue. No matter what position that boom is in, it works with the same efficiency. This adds great dimensions of safety for us, the victim and for the others on the road.”
The SwiftLift system allows the engine to be oriented in any direction without moving the vehicle once it has been parked because of the articulating motion in the head of the unit. It can be outfitted with an assortment of other custom features depending on the needs of the individual departments. Chief Carl Magann of LLFD added: “This was designed by firefighters and it is very durable. With very little training, any firefighter can become familiar with the assembly and operation of the unit. I know it saves lives.”
The manufacturer of the SwiftLift VRS is the Flaresun Fire Group, which comprises a mixture of firefighters and entrepreneurs that have served in – or been involved in – the fire service for many years. “What used to be a monumental task became a fast and efficient rescue. I am very proud of the fact that our engine is called for mutual aid as far as 35 or more miles away by other departments because they know by the time they gather their volunteers and set up the Z-rig, we can be there and already have the victim out,” concluded Chief Wiles.