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Brewskies Benefiting Local History

Firefighters, fundraisers and beer guzzlers huddled around the bar at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery to celebrate the 15th-annual Fire Chief Ale-tapping benefit to renovate Rescue 25.

Suddenly, the music stopped. A brief hush blanketed the jam-packed seating area inside as heads turned in confusion over the abrupt interruption.

The dimly lit brewery was teeming with firefighters, fundraisers and beer guzzlers huddled around the bar to celebrate the 15th-annual Fire Chief Ale tapping benefit. This time, the proceeds went toward Campbell’s Rescue 25 project, which aims to restore Northern California’s first firefighter paramedic vehicle.     

Bennett Ponder, the restaurant’s general manger, called the attention of the room using a microphone while standing on top of the bar with a beer in his hand.  

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Ponder, stirring some excitement from the room. “Thank you all for attending.”

He continued by introducing three fire chiefs and Fred Van Hook, a Friends of Rescue 25 organizer and an original member of the pioneering paramedic team in Campbell in 1974. Ponder finished with an all inclusive raise-your-glass toast to officially kick off the ale-tapping benefit.         

Rescue 25 refers to the original 1974 custom cab Chevrolet that founding members used to establish the first Northern California firefighter-paramedic team in Campbell.

“It’s in dire need of restoration to bring it back to its original glory,” said Karen Lange, director of Campbell’s Historical Museum and Ainsley House.

The paramedic team was trained to perform advanced emergency medical procedures and became only the second team of its kind statewide, earning Campbell historic recognition as a pioneer of emergency service responding.

“We started doing some lifesaving procedures that no one else had done,” said Hook. “It symbolizes a big change in emergency medicine.”

The Rescue 25 restoration project is co-sponsored by Campbell’s Historical Museum and Friends of Rescue 25, former firefighter paramedics and employees, according to the project’s flier.   

Prior to the Rock Bottom benefit, Hook said, the project had raised about two-thirds of its $15,000 goal through other fundraisers and Rescue 25 merchandise.

In addition to all of the one-hour sales of $1.25 pints of Fire Chief Ale during the benefit, Rock Bottom is also donating 25¢ for every purchase of Fire Chief Ale throughout the month of March to the project.

“My business mantra is, you’re either part of the community, or you’re going to be out of the community,” Ponder said. “I met with the guys of Rescue-25 and thought it would be a perfect fit for what we do.”

The partnership between Rock Bottom and Friends of Rescue 25 was initiated by Ponder, who firmly believes in supporting the Campbell community.

"A lot of the nonprofits are suffering, because they’re not getting any funds,” Ponder said. “And I can’t give them cash, but what I can do is utilize the property to make events happen and give them a great check.”

To support Rescue 25, you can make a donation or purchase merchandise at the Campbell Historic Museum and Ainsley House.

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