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While Fire on the Rock is Fun, So Is Not Burning Your House Down, Edutainment at Cooking Competition

By Jesse Wood

April 10, 2013. When Fire on the Rock founder Jimmy Crippen first came to Blowing Rock Fire Chief Kent Graham with the idea of hosting the inaugural Fire on the Rock at the Green Park Inn eight years ago, Graham said, “Nope. You can’t do that.”

Blowing Rock Fire Chief Kent Graham - Photo by Ken Ketchie
Blowing Rock Fire Chief Kent Graham – Photo by Ken Ketchie

It wasn’t because Graham, who has a culinary background, was against the idea of the competitive dining series. He thought it was a great idea, but he said he was against the open-flame cooking event happening at the historic Green Park Inn, which is well over 100 years old.

So Graham tried to discourage Crippen, who then called Graham back and asked, “What would it take?”

Graham gave a list of safety precautions that included the fire department present; fire extinguishers placed by each stove, fans to pull heat and smoke out of the rooms; and the execution of evacuation and crowd control plans. 

After all of that, Crippen said, “OK.”

Today, Fire on the Rock, which has grown into the state-wide Competition Dining Series, gives fire officials an entertainment platform to discuss the number one cause of home fires and burn injuries to a demographic that causes them – adults.  

While fire departments across the country spend vast amounts of resources and time educating children about the dangers of fire, more than 40 percent of structure fires and burn injuries in the U.S. come from cooking in the kitchen, according to Angie Gregg, an injury prevention specialist with the Office of State Fire Marshal and member of the Blowing Rock Fire Department. Gregg added that faulty heating equipment and combustible materials too close to heaters, the second leading cause of home fires, account for another 20 percent of home fires.

“We spend a lot of effort and energy going into the schools and talking to kids when that is not our biggest problem,” said Graham.

Of course, Graham said that critical fire and burn prevention in the schools wasn’t going to be ignored. Children still need to learn to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes are on fire, and homes still need working fire alarms and two exits from each unit. 

But, Graham said, fire officials – and the general public – should look at the numbers from a marketing/advertising standpoint and focus efforts appropriately to bring needed awareness to a frequent danger that is relatively unknown to the general public. 

The Office of State Fire Marshal is a sponsor of the Competition Dining Series. 

When ever Fire on the Rock first started, Graham and Gregg and others at the Blowing Rock Fire Department created an entertaining presentation that would fit within the unconventional format of the Fire on the Rock series. Unconventional, Graham said, in the sense that this isn’t where fire, life and safety educators usually teach fire safety and burn prevention.

Now that the Fire on the Rock series as grown hand over first across the state into Wilmington, Raleigh, Asheville, Greensboro and Charlotte, Graham travels to these events to teach the fire, life and safety educators about what his department has learned throughout the year’s of Fire on the Rock.

“The ultimate goal of course is to bring structure fires and burn injuries down. It’s a fun atmosphere – no doubt about it. It’s entertainment. It’s a lot of fun, and we don’t bring it to a screeching halt.” Graham said, adding, “What’s more fun than not burning your children or burning your house down?” 

For a series of articles on Fire on the Rock, click here: https://www.hcpress.com/tag/fire-on-the-rock-2013.