When Brookfield Fire Chief Dave Masirovits approached Troy Kolar about buying traffic safety equipment for the department, Kolar was intrigued by Masirovits’ request for rechargeable flares.

“This is first time anybody has asked for these,” Kolar said of the electronic flares, which are magnetic and have a variety of flash patterns.

“I’m glad he brought these to my attention,” said Kolar, a firefighter captain of the Cardinal Joint Fire District in Canfield. “I’m poking my chief, ‘We want these.’”

Kolar is with First Responders First Inc., a non-profit he and his wife, Alissa, created following a harrowing 2014 crash on the Ohio Turnpike. A car hauler smashed into a Canfield fire truck, injuring Kolar and another firefighter and killing a woman the fire department had been called to help. The fire truck was along the side of the road. The truck driver said he sneezed, taking his eyes off the road, and, when he looked back up, he couldn’t stop in time, Kolar said.

While Alissa Kolar’s first reaction was, “How do you not see a fire truck?” the incident led to a discussion about better protecting first-responders, Troy Kolar said.

First Responders First provides safety equipment to police and fire departments and emergency medical providers, and even to schools for safety initiatives, Kolar said.

Masirovits, who said he learned about the rechargeable flares from Burghill Vernon Fire Department Chief George Synder, said the about $800 grant allowed the department to buy six flares; 12 green, reflective safety vests, which fit over a firefighter’s coat; and a collapsible pink sign that says “EMERGENCY SCENE AHEAD.”

The chief noted that construction crews post orange signs and people tend to disregard them.

“When they see a big pink sign, they pay attention,” Masirovits said.

The department already had traffic cones and other equipment, but wanted to do more to raise visibility of the firefighters, so they will be safer when they are working, the chief said, and the equipment supports the department’s safety policy implemented Jan. 1.

“It’s nice to see a chief who promotes safety,” Kolar said. “Believe me, not all chiefs are like that.”