Gaska president repays fire department

Gaska Tape president Jack Smith Jr. thanks the Elkhart Fire Department

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — After the Elkhart Fire Department responded to a fire at Gaska Tape Inc. in late March, company president Jack B. Smith Jr. wanted to find ways to thank them.

On April 16, he provided a catered meal from McCarthy’s on the RiverWalk for all firefighters on duty that day. Some would think that gesture was gracious enough.

Smith’s gratitude, however, stretched even farther recently when he paid a $5,000 bill for equipment the department had ordered.

According to Fire Chief Mike Compton, Smith approached him the day of the meal and told him he would foot the bill for equipment the department needed but could not afford.

Compton settled on two new extraction cutters, used to help pull victims out of damaged vehicles. According to the chief, the two pairs the department ordered are made specifically to cut through the stronger boron steel now being used to build cars.

He explained that the department’s old equipment cut with the strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. The new cutters are more than three times as strong, with 200,000 psi. “It’s a very cool tool,” he added. “We as a department truly appreciate it.”

“(Smith) is a great citizen to the city,” Compton continued, adding that he believed Smith understands the importance of public safety and the fire department’s role in that area.

Smith, for his part, was just trying to repay the firefighters for their efforts. “It’s kind of a way of saying, ‘Thanks for your help,’” he said. “Nobody really ever says thanks.”

Gaska Tape Inc. manufactures tape and foam products for a variety of applications including those in the industrial, medical, recreational vehicle and retail markets. The company operates out of a 250,000-square-foot facility on 1810 W. Lusher Ave. and houses its research and development programs.

Founded in 1965 in Elkhart, Gaska Tape was bought by Jack Boyd Smith in 1976. Today, Jack B. Smith Jr. is the company president.

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