East Franklin VFD Receives Life-Saving Equipment Donation In Honor Of Kevin Apuzzio

Eric Allen, kneeling, in cap, inventor of the FAST Board, describes the equipment to members of East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department. (Photo: PJ Parker.)

By PJ Parker.

Franklin’s Native Son Kevin Apuzzio was only 21 years old when he lost his life, trapped in a basement during a structural fire.

Jan. 3, nearly 13 years later, East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department, the fire department Apuzzio called home, was honored in his memory with the donation of a FAST Board by FAST Rescue Solutions, a system proving lives are being saved in record time.

The brainchild of Eric Allen, the FAST (Firefighter Assistance Search Team) Board resembles a high-impact plastic surfboard with Kevlar strapping, designed purposely with a smooth bottom to quickly glide over surfaces with ease, from concrete and wood to carpet, sand, snow, water and ice.

“When seconds count, this board moves people up and down stairs, ladders, off roofs, through all sorts of surfaces that took too long before,” Allen said. “We have a five-minute window, we’re coming in around two or three minutes.”

Steve Jason, a fire instructor and representative for FAST Rescue Solutions, was introduced to Allen through a mutual friend about two years ago as Allen was developing the FAST Board, and he shared his enthusiasm for the concept.

“This original design is for rapid intervention from trapped, confined areas, low and twisted angles and, with the flotation ring added, it floats through water,” Jason said.

East Franklin Chief Daniel Kruskinsky said, “We connected with the FAST Board through Steve Jason, who had known about Kevin’s death. They wanted to donate one of the boards to EFVFD to honor Kevin, but to also help us better respond as an RIT – Rapid Intervention Team – not only for our guys, but other fire departments in the area we respond to.”

“It’s light, it fits easily onto our trucks and it’s easy to move, like a sled,” he said.

Allen, who hails from the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Special Operations Squad 47, spent four years working on the prototype and setting up a business to promote it.

“In three years, it’s now in 250 departments, including Philadelphia’s SWAT team and seven countries so far,” Allen said. “I sometimes look at the board and think, wow, that’s my baby.”

“My proudest moment, getting it to my guys,” he said.


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