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Mission Possible

20+-Year Firefighter Peter Kirvin is dedicated to the safety of first responders and the community

Peter Kirvin’s journey to where he is today is an outstanding example of how dedication, passion, and a desire to serve can lead to remarkable achievements. A District Chief with the Boca Grande fire department, Peter's life and career are centered around one simple philosophy – giving back.

His story starts in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Working as a roofer at the time, Peter realized that he didn’t want a job that required doing the same thing over and over. It was during this search for purpose that some friends introduced him to volunteer firefighting, and he found his calling. "I fell in love with helping others, and there was always something different," says the Sarasota-born Peter.

Peter began volunteering at the Nokomis Fire Department in 2000 and was hired in 2002. He started working at the Boca Grande Fire Department a few years later while continuing to volunteer in Nokomis – until he was promoted: first to Lieutenant and then, in 2022, to Boca Grande District Chief.

But his journey didn't stop there. After noticing various inadequacies in safety equipment, Peter took matters into his own hands, thus birthing the company Fire Ninja (FireNinja.com) in 2012. "There were certain things you always wished you had on the job," he says. From safety glasses to vests, Peter's objective was clear – to ensure the men and women on the frontline had the best equipment.

But it wasn't just about producing quality safety equipment: the mission was personal for Peter. He shares an incident where an eye injury to one of his team members became a catalyst for change. "At the time, safety glasses were hideous. No one wanted to wear them. I did a cool design, and it got traction."

Peter's designs resonated with the needs of the firefighters. "I'm an officer. I'd get off the truck, like at a car accident, and I’d look back to see my guys fumbling with their safety vests," Peter recalls. His solution? The Ultrabright – a patent-pending vest designed for quick and safe use.

What stands out in Peter's journey is his determination to give back. In 2020 this sentiment led to the birth of R1R, a nonprofit dedicated to helping emergency responders worldwide. “Everything developed organically,” he explains. “I have family in Guatemala and, in 2018, after Volcano Feugo erupted, we donated thousands of vests and cooling towels.” 

From there, the giving grew. Today, R1R (r1r.org ) operates as a hub for a network of over 120 distributors by collecting and rapidly sending out essential equipment to where it’s needed, whether domestically or internationally.

Looking back at Hurricane Ian, Peter recalls the dire need for equipment. "Firefighters were out there for 12, 13 hours. Maybe they needed a pop-up tent, a cooling towel, or an extra set of gloves." He highlighted the importance of Fire Ninja's Sub Zero Cooling Towel, a crucial piece of gear during such disasters. "It holds a reservoir of water. Whip it around, and it stays cold," he explained.

When asked about how it feels to give back, Peter's humility shines through. "That's a weird question for me. It's not different from what I do as a firefighter. I’m looking to get help to people." His initiatives have extended internationally, with training programs for the Bombaros (firefighters) in Mexico, aiming to equip them with better resources.

Aside from his commitment to firefighting, Peter's passion extends to self-defense training, notably Jiu-Jitsu. In 2019, he established the Fire Ninja Training Center in order to empower first responders with the skills to handle intense and potentially dangerous situations.

Looking to the future, both Fire Ninja and R1R have ambitious plans. "I have six patents in the works. The next couple of years will be huge for Fire Ninja," says Peter. 

Today, Peter has two goals for R1R. The first is to build emergency pallets that can be dispatched immediately during crises. The second is to develop and streamline the logistics that get things where they need to go – emergency-level fast! Both goals need funding! Members of the community can choose to donate on the Fire Ninja website by going to fireninja.com/r1r-donations-501c3.

Above Photo: Fire Ninja & R1R contacted USAR members working on the scene at the 2021 Surfside Building collapse in 2021 to figure out the necessary equipment. Task Force 7 stated that they needed help with REHAB due to heat and long workdays. CEO Peter Kirvin delivered REHAB and Protective Equipment to ground zero and assisted USAR Task Force 7 with rescue team REHAB and logistics.

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