Firefighters’ chili cook-off raises money for burn camp and survivors

Oct 17, 2023, 10:00 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2023, 5:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — If someone is ever injured by fire, the odds are good that they were saved from a more devastating injury by a firefighter.

So who better to raise money for burn survivors than the firefighters behind the Utah Firefighter Chili Cook-off? 

That’s what’s happening this Saturday.  From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., more than 20 teams of first responders will gather at the America First Field Pavilion, home of RSL Soccer, in Sandy for the 11th annual Utah Firefighter Chili Cook-off. They’re all raising money for the University of Utah Health Burn Camp programs for burn survivors.

Supporters and participants say this camp is an integral part of the healing process for burn victims.

What is burn camp?

There are five burn camps for specific age groups, Rob Marriot, a firefighter with Unified Fire Authority, told KSL NewsRadio. They include

  • preschool,
  • Nah Nah Mah, for ages 6 through 13,
  • adolescents 14-17,
  • young adult, and
  • adult retreat.

“So if you were burned as a child, you can just progress through each of those camps,” Marriott said.

‘Extremely rewarding’

Abe Cofer is 13 years old, and participating in his second burn camp. He said half of his right leg was burned when lighter fluid caught fire. He spent two weeks in a hospital intensive care unit. 

“To come out on the other end and then be able to turn that into helping other people who have gone through something similar,” Marty said. “How rewarding is that for you to be able to say, ‘I went through this tough thing, but boy, I can be of help’?

“It’s extremely rewarding to see — especially my own progression — but to be able to see other people’s progression through their trauma and the progression in their lives,” Abe said.

‘They’re my heroes’

There are a lot of kids and adults who look up to firefighters, for good reason. They’re the ones who rush in, when others are rushing out. But Marriott, a United Fire Authority firefighter, said his heroes attend burn camp.

“As a firefighter, often we’re called heroes. But when I go to camp, I’m surrounded by these incredible humans, from 5, 12, 18 years old.

“They give me so much strength, so much courage to watch their grit, their determination, their resilience,” Marriott said.

“I need someone to look up to as a firefighter. Abe and all of the survivors that I encounter, that I have relationships with, those are who I look up to. They’re my heroes. Come out and support this event. It’s really important for us,” Marriott said.

Chili cook-off

Although admission is free, Keri Jones, of Utah Disaster Kleenup said each 4-ounce sample of chili costs $2.

“Or you can take some to go,” she said. “We have 16-ounce to-go containers for $6. So yeah, come on out, buy as many tickets as you want. We say for a family of four — little kids — plan on spending about $50.”

Related: Smart landscaping could prevent future wildfire home damage, injury

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Firefighters’ chili cook-off raises money for burn camp and survivors