Firehouse Subs gives back to Shelby County

Published 4:29 pm Monday, February 7, 2011

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

My husband and I had never eaten at a Firehouse Subs restaurant until a few months ago. Now we are regulars. It is a fun environment much like eating in an actual firehouse.

While we like their good food and great customer service, there is something we like even more — the company’s charitable giving. It is as much a part of their business as their famous subs, limeade and chili.

Firehouse Subs was started by brothers, Chris and Robin Sorenson of Florida, who were both fire fighters with 200 years of firefighting heritage in their family. As part of their company’s mission statement, they created Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which is “dedicated to equip, educate and fund public safety entities . . .” They support first responders by providing resources that can “have a positive impact on communities and their fire departments, law enforcement and EMS.”

Firehouse Subs restaurants resemble an actual firehouse. (Special/Beth Chapman)

So far, nationwide, they have donated $2 million to 160 communities in 19 states.

Shelby County is one of them, and has benefitted from donations made by local franchise owners Claudia and John Porter. The Porters retired from the securities business and were looking for something new to do. As a result, they now have FireHouse Subs locations in Alabaster, Altadena, Vestavia and on U.S. 280 in Brook Highland.

To date, the Porters have donated $31,000 of much-needed equipment to Shelby County Fire Departments — $12,000 to the Cahaba Valley Fire Station and $19,000 to the Jemison Volunteer Fire Station. Some of the life-saving equipment they have donated, such as a special defibrillator, is so expensive that it might not be available today without the generous donations from Firehouse Subs, the Porters and their customers.

“As government budgets decrease, our requests for funding increase,” said Claudia Porter. “We are grateful to our restaurant crews and guests for their generosity, which makes these equipment donations possible.”

Each Firehouse Subs restaurant recycles leftover, five-gallon pickle buckets and sells them for $2 to their customers. Donation canisters for collecting change are on register counters and explain the mission of the nonprofit.

So the next time you have a hungry stomach and a giving heart, take them to Firehouse Subs, and you’ll fill them both in a positive and helpful way for your body and your community. When our public safety officials prosper, we all prosper.

Clockwise from left, Amber Atkins, Matt Davis, Sam Higginbottham, Doug Crhomicz and Tim Files enjoy a meal at a Shelby County Firehouse Subs restaurant. (Special/Beth Chapman)

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at