BBQ, Corn Hole, a Brotherhood Bash, a Parade and so much more!

heading out to SAFRE 2014The Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) and I headed out to the 2014 South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo (SAFRE) in Raleigh, NC this past weekend.

We took my camper and our new smoker so we could compete in their BBQ Throwdown. It was a 1st for us and we had a BLAST!

We had to get there, set up and be ready to cook by  7pm. The contestants were judged in 2 categories…. one for their BBQ and again for the best appearing booth / set up.

Fire Critic Ironfiremen BBQ Throwdown setupI was a little disappointed to learn that they wouldn’t allow us to use the camper in our cooking space but they did accommodate us by allowing  us to park it close by.

Severe storms were in the forecast so we had to use tents to make up  the booth.

Thankfully for us, Brothers Neel Brawley, Chad Furr, Chris Thompson and Justin Cagle came to our rescue and helped with the set up and more! The Model City Firefighter (Andrew Catron) teamed up with us again and brought a 3rd load of equipment / supplies up from Tennessee. We came “loaded for bear”…ummmm… or pig …LOL

busy booth 2014 SAFRE BBQ ThrowdownIn the end, the booth looked great and provided cover for the smoker and all of our guests and visitors.

It’s a good thing because it was a busy spot and yes… it rained!

Despite the weather, there was a good and steady flow of Brothers and Sisters stopping by to visit all through the night.

Rhett had some sausage and peppers going and there was plenty of cold beverages and Brotherhood for everyone.

prep for the 2014 BBQ Throwdown SAFREThere were about 18-19 teams entered in the contest. We each smoked about 150 lbs. of Boston Butts all through the night.

Friday morning, the judges collected a small sample from each contestant to be used in the judging. Then, each team chopped their remaining pork which was all mixed together and sold throughout the show.

It was fun but also a LOT of work. Rhett is the team cook and ended up pulling most of the load and made sure everything went as smoothly as possible.

In the end, we didn’t win in either category but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. The booth looked good and the BBQ turned out AMAZING.

We had talked a little “smack” leading up to the event but in all honesty, we knew how difficult it would be to go into NC and try to win a BBQ contest.

We also knew that this would be a learning experience for us and, as always; we took full advantage. We’ll be back next year, bigger and better than ever!

corn hole boardsThere was also a Corn Hole (sometimes called “bean bag toss”) Tournament Thursday night. The Model City Firefighter, Andrew Catron; and I represented our team but unfortunately were knocked out in the 1st round.

We even had our own custom boards made for this trip (pictured right) and they looked AMAZING!

My Brother-in-law, Aaron Barrier;  made the boards while long time friend and owner of Kevin’s Signs made the decals for us locally (he also made the banner you see in our booth setup). To go along with the boards, my oldest daughter, Randi-Jo; made us some custom bags! We were very proud to showcase them in Raleigh.

The boards got plenty of use at our booth and are sure to travel with us on future trips. Contact me for details on how to get a custom set made for you and/or your department.

A couple folks I haven’t mentioned yet are Mike Manning, Jason and Jesse Shotwell from the Davie Fire Department. Mike, Jason and Jesse are GREAT friends who have came to my rescue more than once while traveling. This year, they were right by our side again and beyond the shout out here, I wanted to share a very special THANK YOU.

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SAFRE 2014

So Friday morning, we broke down the BBQ booth and got our first look at the Expo floor before heading to the hotel for a little rest before the night’s festivities. This was my 3rd time at SAFRE but the 1st for Rhett. He was VERY impressed as I’m sure he’ll share with you over on the pages of Read about my experience from last years SAFRE in the link below…

Read “Beyond Southern Hospitality…it’s Brotherhood!”

Photo my Mike Legeros

Photo my Mike Legeros

So the big event Friday night was the Brotherhood Bash hosted by the Capital Area FOOLS (link) .

The event was HUGE and an even bigger success!

It seems as if the BASH grows each year and that’s a good problem for the Brothers and Sisters of the Capital Area.

As you can see, it was an outside venue and the weather was perfect. They had a live band and the Pipes and Drums played several times after opening the event by marching / playing in!

Led by Eric Stephenson, they once again stole the show. In one set, a couple members even used flaming pipes. In the last set, Eric invited me and Rhett inside the circle…. something I’ve only seen happen one time before. It’s was VERY cool!

Matthew Cross used a “Drone” throughout the show to capture some amazing video. Check out his view from the Brotherhood Bash in the video below….

Parade view 2014 SAFRESaturday, we were back on the Expo floor before going to the Parade and checking out the Cold Water Challenge as well as the Firefighter and Haz-Mat competitions.

Once again, we didn’t just “watch” the Parade, we RODE in it!

Check out our view as a custom Mack took us through the spectator packed streets of downtown Raleigh!

Once again, I’ll say that we had a BLAST!

with Chief SalkaAs you can tell, this show has a little of everything and something for everyone!If you’ve never attended, you need to make your plans NOW.

In my mind, SAFRE has grown bigger and better than Firehouse Expo in Baltimore (which we attended last weekend and you can read about HERE )


There are so many details that I haven’teven  told ya about yet. Just the fact that Retired FDNY Chief John Salka delivered the Keynote should tell you something about what this show has to offer.

I’ll add some links to the sites of Mike Legeros and Lee Wilson who took hundreds if not thousands of pictures. Take the time to look through em for a better idea of what we experienced in Raleigh. These sites are now updated with more photos from the time of my previous post…..

2014 SAFRE from Mike Legeros

2014 SAFRE from Lee Wilson

GREAT local news coverage including video HERE

Thanks to everyone who helped to put on this great Expo… your hard work was VERY evident! Thanks as well to everyone who helped make our experience one of the best this year. If you were one of the hundreds who took a picture with us, please share or tag us on Face Book, Twitter etc. If you’re not following on Face Book yet, you can find me HERE .

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines