December 18, 2023 6 Comments
More than 2,000 buildings destroyed.
More than 2,200 acres scorched.
Nearly 100 lives lost.
More than hundreds injured.
Put simply, these are the statistics of the damage left behind by the wildfires that tore through Lahaina Maui in August, creating scenes of chaos and carnage across the island.
Maui firefighters responded to the call, and every single one of them performed heroically. They did everything within their power to minimize the damage, to save lives, and preserve property. Under the extreme and overwhelming circumstances they were faced with, they succeeded beyond all expectations. They are the reason those statistics aren’t much worse.
We're teaming up with the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association (HFFA) throughout January to help them during this difficult time through our Fire Department Clubs. Each purchase of the Fire Dept. Coffee Club we will give back $2. With each purchase of the Fire Dept. Shirt Club, we will give back $5, all of it to support those displaced firefighters and ensure they have all they need each day while they work to rebuild their lives.
In collaboration with our friends at the HFFA, we’ve created Aloha Coffee, a special Kona blend and its corresponding t-shirt designed to celebrate the spirit of the islands and their iconic status for epic surf.
Join now to lock in your spot for Hawaii's exclusive coffee and shirt. There will be limited quantities available for this alluring Kona blend coffee – and your support will make all the difference.
Extreme drought conditions and high winds fueled the August wildfire season across the island chain.
Maui is Hawaii’s second-largest of the chain’s eight islands, sitting just to the northwest of “The Big Island.” It covers 727 square miles of land, and on that day and the days that followed, it was extremely vulnerable.
From the moment the first call came in, the task of containing and controlling this extreme, wind-driven fire fell totally on the firefighters from the County of Maui Department of Fire & Public Safety who were battling separate blazes on different parts of the island. Days after the devastating fires occurred, they would later be joined by and receive recovery support from firefighters from neighboring islands, other Fire Fighting Divisions from the mainland, emergency crews from federal agencies, the Department of Forestry and Wildlife. Other federal and state agencies along with local volunteers assisted with supplies and distribution.
“Being a state made up of islands separated by water, each fire department is on their own to address their emergency incidents,” said Hawaii Fire Fighters Association President Bobby Lee. “Maui island firefighters were the only ones available to respond to control these fires with no help from the rest of the state. These fires impacted everyone. Electricity and communication lines were down. The public in the worst fire areas couldn’t contact their families outside of their ravaged communities. Our concern is always about our firefighters safety. We had heard some horrific stories of what our firefighters were faced with,” Lee said.
In one perilous instance, a crew was trapped in their fire truck near Front Street in Lahaina where the blaze was so hot that the truck windshield started melting. Firefighters abandoned the truck, sheltering behind it and soaking themselves in water for protection.
One young firefighter spotted a nearby Skeeter truck. He hopped in and sped away, crashing through fences and rock walls creating an escape route until he made his way clear and found the Maui Police Department directing traffic.
He told the police of the situation and then borrowed one of their SUVs, returned to his trapped crew and rescued them. That’s the level of heroism that these men and women demonstrated throughout the fires.
Yet when the fires were largely under control, 18 firefighters had lost their homes. Now, months later, they are still dealing with the realities of being displaced.
Some have bounced around, staying with friends and relatives. Some are living in RVs donated from the mainland. Others are finding their own solutions. Every day is a challenge, and rebuilding could take years.
“The funds we raise with Fire Dept. Coffee will go to support necessities and housing for many of them,” said Daisy Canite, Communications Director for the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association. “After a while, you want to return to normal, to your own space.”
Funds can also help provide the daily essentials that make life easier for the displaced firefighters and their families.
“The HFFA is also working with our island fire departments and the International Association of Fire Fighters to strengthen and provide emotional and peer support services for our members who are living through the aftermath of these tragic fires. We are so thankful and blessed for not losing a single firefighter,” Lee said.
“When I see a firefighter get emotional, I get emotional,” Canite said. “It’s really rough because they’re the strongest people I know.”
Fire Dept. Coffee reached out to the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association in August, asking what they needed and how we could help in any way possible.
Together, we decided to use our monthly Fire Dept. Coffee Club and Fire Dept. Shirt Club to raise funds and awareness. It gave us an opportunity to not only give back but also to celebrate these firefighters and the unique Hawaiian culture that means so much to them.
Few things are more representative of Hawaiian culture than surf.
“The Polynesias are the birthplace of surfing,” Canite said. “It’s something everyone growing up on an island can relate to.”
Every island has its own signature surf spot. On Maui, it’s Pe'ahi — AKA “Jaws.”
“Many of our firefighters are surfers,” she added. “They work hard, play hard and they know Jaws very well. When they’re in their element, they are completely zoned into their own space. For that little time they’re on the wave, work is not even on their mind.”
So, we created Aloha Coffee, a remarkable Kona blend with a sweetness and nuttiness that crash together like the Pe'ahi waves. Every member of our Fire Dept. Coffee Club will get the chance to enjoy this blend in January.
The design on the bag matches the design on the shirts that members of our Fire Dept. Shirt Club will be wearing this month. It shows a surfer wearing a firefighter’s helmet while riding a wave.
It represents that moment of focus, calm and peace that we wish for every firefighter affected by the Maui blazes.
If you haven’t joined the Fire Dept. Coffee Club or Fire Dept. Shirt Club yet, there is no better time than now. These firefighters and their families have been through so much and they deserve our support.
In return, you’ll get a new coffee or a new shirt to enjoy each month — and each month you’ll be supporting a new department or organization within the fire service. It’s a great feeling to give back.
Thanks to your support we were able to donate $13,918 to Hawaii Fire Fighters Association. This donation will help displaced Hawaii firefighters who lost their homes due to wildfires. We are grateful for your unwavering support and honored to make this meaningful contribution.
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