Serving southern Sonoma County from the edge of Petaluma to the Marin County line, the San Antonio Volunteer Fire Department's service area encompasses miles of the Petaluma River and its tributary streams and creeks.

During past water emergencies, San Antonio firefighters were forced to wait for mutual aid because they lacked the necessary gear to enter the water.

Now EPIC is partnering with Fireman's Fund Insurance Company to solve this problem by donating $13,373 to the San Antonio Volunteer Fire Department to fund a rescue boat with an outboard motor and utility trailer.

"Having the ability to respond to water emergencies will help ensure the safety of our community," said Fire Chief Ron Pomi. "With this boat, we will be able to respond to water incidents quickly, efficiently and safely."

The grant is part of a nationwide philanthropic program funded by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company. The program is designed to provide needed equipment, training and educational tools to local fire department and burn prevention organizations.

Since 2004, Fireman's Fund has issued grants to nearly 1,800 different organizations totaling more than $28 million. Independent insurance agencies and brokers that sell Fireman's Fund products, like EPIC, are able to direct these grants to support the fire service.

"We're proud to support our local volunteer fire department," said Bill Merget of EPIC. "It's vital that our first responders have the proper equipment to help our community when it's needed most."