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Making a Difference | Fighting fire with funding

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It's just three letters, but there's something about BBQ that brings people together.

And as I found out from the Fire Commissioner, the money raised from the 4th Annual "Smoke in the Park" will make a difference now more than ever.

When you see a fire truck rushing to an emergency – you’re looking at about $1,000,000 driving by – and that’s just for 1 truck!

West Shore Bureau of Fire Commissioner Todd Shadle broke the numbers down for me at the new fire station that just opened in August in Lemoyne.

Commissioner Shadle says, "An air pack, what we call an SCBA, the Self-contained Breathing Apparatus is $5,000. A set of gear for a firefighter can be $2,500, which every person who is a firefighter needs a set. A new fire engine for instance, we purchased a new squad this year and that was $720,000 so we're quickly approaching a million dollars for a piece of fire apparatus anymore.”

It's all needed to operate a 24/7, 365 day emergency services organization.

And being an all-volunteer fire company, they rely on grants and donations to offset the costs.

That's where their biggest fundraiser of the year comes in.

“Smoke in the Park” - PA State Championship BBQ - is a Kansas City BBQ Society sanctioned cook-off.

The two day event featured a professional BBQ cook-off with music, crafts and activities for the entire family.

Families that are protected by the efforts of these fire fighters and their equipment.

It was a lot of fun, but an education as well.

An education about what is now considered a volunteer firefighter crisis in Pennsylvania.

"If you look at the studies that the State Fire Commissioner's putting out and what we've known for years - in the 80's, we had 350,000 volunteer firefighters in PA. Now, today, there's less than 50,000, some say 35,000. There’s a lot of work being done basically at the state level to recruit and retain firefighters, because we are in a crisis mode...we are", says Shadle.

The 4th annual "Smoke in the Park" PA State Championship BBQ was held September 28th and 29th.

The winners from the PA competition have an opportunity to compete in either the Jack Daniels Championship BBQ contest in Tennessee or the KCBS National Championship BBQ competition in Kansas City!

Click here to see the results of the competition.

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