MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER. Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
For the past 15 years, the Combat Center Fire Department has held the Annual Fire Prevention Week Chili Luncheon to promote fire safety and raise money for charity.
The luncheon has become a staple social event for Combat Center personnel. Hundreds flocked to the fire station on Oct. 12 to socialize, learn about the year's fire safety theme and enjoy some homemade chili.
Fire Prevention Week originally started to commemorate fire fighters after the great Chicago fire, which happened Oct. 8, 1871. Fire Prevention week now is observed every year on the week of Oct. 9.
Darlene Hull, Assistant Fire Chief, Combat Center Fire Department, has been with the CCFD long before the inception of the luncheon.
“We have this event to recognize National Fire Prevention Week,” Hull said. “This year’s theme is ‘Have Two Ways Out’ and all week we've been giving tours and educating elementary school children about the program.”
There was also a trailer at the luncheon that taught young children fire safety and this year's theme.
“The thing we're trying to stress is fire safety and prevention,” said Mark Aid, fire inspector, CCFD. “I’m here teaching the kids and to get their attention. We really get their attention with this stuff. You can see the trust that they have and that they really appreciate and respect it.”
The money raised from the luncheon goes to a charity in the Combined Federal Campaign decided by the CCFD. In the past the department has donated to charities like the American Red Cross and The Ronald McDonald House.
“Anything we gain above and beyond the cost of the event, we pick a charity based on their overhead and the good they provided to the masses,” Hull said. “In the past few years we’ve chosen the American Red Cross.”
In Hull's time at the fire department, the chili luncheon has grown since it started. At its start, the chili was from a can. Now the fire department makes the chili from scratch from their own mixture of beef, beans and spices.
“We started everything on Tuesday,” Hull said. “We started with 210 pounds of ground beef, 50 pounds of beans and we make it all from scratch right here in the house.”
Attendees had a lot to take away from the luncheon. Children left with big smiles and gifts from learning about fire safety and prevention, and everyone left with a belly full of chili.