Volunteer fire departments constantly struggle to raise money to purchase and maintain life-saving equipment. In the small town of Cosby, a different group of volunteers have cooked up a recipe to help provide financial support for firefighters.
"Three of us ladies started making dinners and selling them last June to raise money to buy equipment for the Cosby Volunteer Fire Department," said Cosby resident Debbie Parks. "We got a lot of support and decided to do it the first Thursday of every month."
The volunteer chefs sell home-cooked food at the fire station in Cosby for $6 a plate. The menu this week was Sloppy Joes, baked beans, cole slaw, chips, and homemade cookies. The slew of side items and entrees has helped the volunteer fire department with funds to buy new fireproof boots, coats, hoods, and air packs.
"Some of the companies in town have kind of partnered with us by buying a bunch of the plates every month for their employees. We have to get here early in the morning and basically cook all day and night. We'll finish up around 9:00 tonight," said Parks.
Since the effort began last June, Parks said the ladies have raised more than $9,000 for the Cosby VFD. The amount of volunteers cooks have also increased.
"We have a good group of ladies who have husbands that are firemen, children that are firemen, and grandchildren. Everybody's trying to pull together as a team," said Parks.
Considering one full set of fireproof gear costs around $1,700, the plates of food are making a big difference. The ladies hope to raise $25,000 to equip the entire department with new fireproof clothing.
"You can't just run into a burning building with jeans and a t-shirt," said Paul Bryant, assistant chief of the Cosby VFD. "You need gloves, shirts, coats, pants, boots, helmets, and everything else to be safe. It does me good to see these ladies are interested in the community and the fire department and want to be able to help people. That's our main objective for being here is to help people in the community."
Raising money for the volunteer fire department has also saved people in Cosby money through the years. The Cosby VFD has been able to improve its firefighting capabilities and its Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating. That fire protection rating improvement has reduced the price of homeowners insurance in Cosby.
Donations to the Cosby Volunteer Fire Department can be mailed to 3292A Cosby Hwy, Cosby, TN 37722.