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Donated grills keep Henderson firefighters well-fed

Daniel Juarez walked into the Henderson Fire Department Station 84 kitchen, immediately unbuttoning his vest and slipping into a pair of blue disposable gloves.

It was lunch — and time to prepare a Cobb salad large enough to feed 14 firefighters, a 12-pound pork shoulder for dinner and a variety of vegetables to cook on the side.

The firefighters unanimously agreed that the job of cooking during their shifts, usually left to the truck company, had recently been made easier, thanks to a donation from BBQ Concepts.

The fire station was the first of the 10 in Henderson this summer to receive a Traeger gas pellet grill from the Las Vegas company.

The 10 grills cost a total of $9,820.

“This is the biggest donation we’ve received from a business,” said Mark Lester, chairman of the Henderson Benevolent Association. “There will be a lot more warmer meals than colder meals now.”

The owner of BBQ Concepts, John Cerul, said he plans to outfit the rest of the stations in Clark County with the grills.

“Firefighters are constantly overlooked and underthanked. These guys pretty much live at the station, so it just made sense,” he said. “Not only is it going to get used, it’s going to get abused here.”

This crew, whose members start their 48-hour shifts on Wednesdays, pools together $30 each for groceries.

There usually aren’t any leftovers by the time they leave Friday.

Kyle Arndt, a station captain, said anything food-related benefits the crew.

“The theory is that when you first come here, you have to cook at least one meal,” the 18-year veteran of the department said. “So you better know how to cook something at least halfway decent.”

The grills are used to cook burgers, brisket, ribs and more. The first time they used it, they had one grease fire, which was quickly put out.

“And what’s your favorite?” Arndt asked the station’s vegan, Scott Dakus. “Granola, with oats and berries?”

Dakus said he takes on a supporting role with the cooking, often eating whatever best fits his diet, even if that means eating a hamburger bun filled with lettuce, tomato and ketchup.

On this Wednesday in August, he helped chop red and green bell peppers and lathered the pork shoulder with taco seasoning, olive oil, garlic salt and onion salt.

Firefighter Logan Stamm’s tattooed upper arm moved rhythmically as he chopped pieces of cheddar cheese and salami for engineer Brandon Rants to break up over a romaine hearts salad.

“It’s easy, convenient for us,” Stamm said of the donation. “It improves morale quite a bit, having good food.”

That day, red flashing lights came up on the Panasonic screen. The crew was called in to block traffic near an accident on U.S. Highway 95 southbound. They had 90 seconds to get out the door.

They’d have to finish when they got back.

The meat, however, could cook while they were gone. Previously, the crew had to turn off the grills anytime it was called to a job.

“With this smoker, I could cook all day long,” said Ian Bradley, a firefighter paramedic. “Set it and forget it.”

Rants added, “Now, we don’t have to baby-sit it, either.”

Lester said the donation stemmed from when he met Cerul at this year’s Jeff Mann Memorial Golf Tournament, put on annually to honor Jeff “The Pirate” Mann, a fallen Henderson firefighter.

“This is what I want to do,” he told him. “Thank you for the service to the community.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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