BONNERS FERRY — Community members came together on March 30 at the Paradise Valley Fire Department for their chili cookoff fundraiser.
The fire department filled with chatter as people compared each variety of chili, which ranged from beef to chicken, venison and elk. To accompany the chili there were condiments of chips, crackers, cheese, and sour cream, as well as a wide variety of corn breads and desserts.
“The chili cookoff was put on to bring awareness to the department and let the community know about wildland fires, we teach about that,” said Mike Glazier, Paradise Valley acting chief. “And to try and get volunteers.”
As acting chief, Glazier is looking toward applying for the volunteer position. He is retiring from his current employment out of state and moving to Boundary County full time so he can continue to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a firefighter.
“We have five guys that are dedicated, and we are just pushing for more,” said Glazier. “That is the biggest thing, is the volunteers, and it’s the hardest thing to get. Some people just don’t want to show up. It’s not a full time job. The more people we have, the better chance at response time we have.”
Paradise Valley Firefighter Brad Anderson does all of the training, and there is no required prerequisites to apply and receive the training, just have the time and drive.
“We run you through it and teach you stuff,” said Glazier. “When I first came up here I was like wow, I have always wanted to be a firefighter, but in California, they hired mainly minorities. But when I first came here, I came to the pancake breakfast. We were driving by, we stopped to eat and then I volunteered.”
From then on, Glazier learned how to drive the truck, how to pump the truck, and did the water tender and medical classes. He recently took the biohazard class, and the assessment class for wildland fires, with more classes to come for him and his team.
These classes help prepare first responders for various situations, assist them in formulating a series of plans, and help them resolve the event in the best and most efficient manner possible.
Regarding the chili cookoff, some people who attended came because they noticed a paragraph about it in the Bonners Ferry Herald, with some coming from as far as Canada.
“It was slow to start, but it’s been picking up,” said Mike Glazier’s wife, Karen Glazier. “Everyone has loved the venison, the elk, and the chicken so far.”
There is a need in the various departments for volunteers, as the more people able to respond, makes the event go more quickly and smoothly.
“Not just for us, but for all of the fire departments up here, are all volunteer,” said Karen Glazier. “A lot of people come from out of state, or a metropolitan area, and they don’t realize we are all volunteer. So if you fall down in the middle of the night needing help, somebody is getting out of bed, hopping in their vehicle, and driving to your house.”
When Mike Glazier was asked why the department sponsored a Chili Feed, he said, “First and foremost, we wanted to provide a place for neighbors, new and old, to come and meet and greet one another. Secondly, we wanted to promote the department and recruit new members for both the Fire District and the Auxiliary. And finally, to educate the community that the department, like all the others in Boundary County, is staffed by volunteers.”
According to his wife, Chief Glazier spoke highly of the current core of highly dedicated volunteers that Paradise Valley Fire District is fortunate to have. He praised the commitment of all the volunteer firefighters in Boundary County.
His goal in 2019 is to promote ‘working together’ as fundamental to the success of all the districts. Glazier stressed that the automatic mutual aid agreement that Paradise Valley has with both South Boundary and North Bench districts has greatly boosted aid response capabilities in all three districts.
Glazier hopes that events like this will encourage high quality, motivated men and women to stop by on a Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at the Main Station, 2492 Paradise Valley Road, to attend a weekly training — and perhaps decide to join in and help out.