MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
People will fare the crowds at the Combat Center Fire Department to get in line for one of their locally-famous bowls of chili.
Laughs and conversation fill the air as patrons are seated in the truck bay. Whether it’s for a flaming-hot bowl of chili, or to simply be welcomed in to the home of our local fire fighters, this is a well-known day aboard the Combat Center, practically a holiday. It is the fire station’s annual chili lunch.
“This has been going on for 16 years now,” said Sam Moore, assistant fire chief, Combat Center Fire Department. “Our chili is pretty good and we think it is awesome that the surrounding community looks forward to coming out here and supporting us and our chili.”
The Combat Center’s firefighters' chili has won many local competitions. Although the chili has come a long way in 16 years, Combat Center patrons seem to always be pleased with the taste.
The firefighters offer three different bowls of chili. There is a spicy bowl for those who dare try it, a mild bowl for those seeking the less intimidating taste of the firefighters' chili, and a half-and-half for the people wanting to put a little kick in their step.
The firefighters maintain a work schedule of 48 hours on the job and then 48 hours off. While on the job, they practically live with each other at work.
“There isn’t much to do while we are on standby at the firehouse,” said Alfonso Razo, Lieutenant, Engine 451, Combat Center Fire Department. “We like to cook for each other and we aren’t afraid to try new recipes.”
With all this time to cook, and plenty of hungry mouths to feed, these public servants also develop notable culinary skills. Aside from pranks and hanging out, cooking is something they look forward to when they have time off.
Some say they cook for themselves and others say they like to cook to see the reactions from their comrades.
While this may all seem like fun and games, these firefighters also take their job seriously, and the community always comes first. This is why they share such a unique craft with the Combat Center.
“We don’t forget why we are here,” said Darlene Hull, assistant fire chief. “We are here for the Marines and their families. This is just another way of reaching our community.”
The focus of the fire department is to take care of everyone in the community and to keep them safe.