Bad meat forces fire house to cancel BBQ fundraiser

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - A local volunteer fire station had to cancel its fundraiser after 1500 pounds of beef went bad. The good news is, after WBTV aired this story Friday morning, another fundraiser stepped in to help.

The volunteers at the Oakdale fire station just outside of Rock Hill have been saving lives for decades.

They have been working since last Sunday getting ready for their 25th annual bar-b-que.  It's money this small firehouse desperately needs to purchase equipment larger cities already have on their trucks.

Crews finished cooking 1500 pounds of meat, and stored it in the station's large refrigeration unit before heading home.  But the fridge stopped working, and ruined all the meat.

"It's heartbreaking." said fire chief Bill Dunlap.   "We wouldn't risk one pound of bar-b-que to make one person sick because of it, so we're taking the loss."

It's a hard loss to swallow.

The money from the 1200 plates of bar-b-que that were going to be sold was going to purchase a thermal imaging camera for search and rescue.

They only have one that's used between several fire engines, and a new camera would drastically cut down on the time it would take to save lives during a fire.

"We're probably out thirty-five hundred dollars." said Dunlap.  "Not only that, but all our guys took off vacation time this week.  We always take vacation time off from our regular jobs to prepare this, and it's so devastating that we've lost this product."

Compounding the issue, the Oakdale firehouse is also out the money because of the damage to one of their bay doors after a truck collided with it trying to rush the meat to another fire station.

"We pulled out of the door at the station, and damaged the door, so not only are we out of the money for the roughly thirty-five hundred dollars of product, but we've got over three thousand dollars worth of damage to a door we can't even roll down anymore."

Dunlap said he's worried about the people who already pre-paid for a plate of the famous bar-b-que, and now they'll be disappointed.

"When they (the local residents) show up today at lunch time, and see the sign out front of the fire station that the bar-b-que has been canceled, it's devastating for us, it's devastating for the community."

Firefighters said they need to try to raise the money some other way to get their thermal imaging camera, and they are asking for the help of the community.  If you can donate money for their cause, the address is:

Oakdale Fire Department
Attn: Chief Bill Dunlap
P.O. Box 11485
Rock Hill, S.C.  29731

So after WBTV told you about this story all morning Friday - the Webb's Chapel United Methodist Church in Denver stepped up to the plate to help out.

Webb's Chapel is holding its popular spring fish fry today. A portion of the proceeds was already committed to the East Lincoln Relay for Life, but the church says it will donate another portion of those proceeds to the Oakdale Fire Department.

The church has also invited members of the Oakdale Fire Department to come by the fish fry and have a plate of fish, at no charge.

The fish fry starts at 11:30 a.m. Friday and goes until the church runs out. That's at 4640 Webbs Chapel Church Road in Denver. It's ten dollars for adults, take out or dine in and kids younger than ten years old are just five dollars. For more details, call (704) 483-9434.

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