Fire departments gearing up for first chili cook-off

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, October 25, 2012

UPPER TOWNSHIP — Two local volunteer fire departments will offer local agencies and groups the chance to show off their cooking skills next month.

The Coal Grove and Upper Township VFDs will host their inaugural chili cook-off Nov. 3 at the Upper Township fire station on State Route 141.

For a cost of $5, area fire departments, agencies, church groups and businesses can form teams and bring their best pot of chili for the community and judges to taste.

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Debi Sherman, wife of Coal Grove Fire Chief Gary Sherman, is helping to coordinate the event. She said both fire departments want everyone to be involved in the chili cook-off and so far, the county’s tactical EMS unit and sheriff’s office have signed up to participate.

The event will go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with prizes awarded at 11 a.m. from the judges and the people’s choice chili awarded at the end of the event.

The community is invited to sample and vote on the chili. Each vote cast is $1.

There will be awards for tradition and non-traditional chili, for example, deer, green or vegetarian.

More than just a good time, the goal of the event is to raise money for the two departments to update repelling and rescue gear.

Coal Grove Fire Chief Gary Sherman said he realized his department needed updated equipment after attending a countywide fire school event.

“Back when we had the county fire school, we had a rope rescue class and there were about 12 firefighters out of the county who took that class,” Gary Sherman said. “After the class was over and we were certified, we got to checking our rope rescue stuff that we have.”

Sherman said bringing the equipment up to the state fire marshal standards would cost about $4,000 to $6,000.

Items that would be purchased are rope, victim and rescuer harnesses, anchoring straps, carabineers, pulley systems, ascenders and descenders, helmets and gloves.

The equipment would be useful in dire situations, Sherman said, such as when four-wheelers and vehicles go over embankments.

“There are industrial sites all over the county where we could be called to at any time,” Sherman added.

To get rules and a registration form to enter the chili cook-off, contact either fire department on Facebook, send an email to, or call Debi Sherman at (740) 237-5916.

Entry forms should be submitted no later than Friday.

“We need chili-cookers to come and the public to come out and taste,” Sherman said.