COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, or an omelet with waffles or pancakes, and then breakfast sausage, steak or ham. Top that off with oatmeal, grits or cream of wheat, plus fresh fruit, cereal, granola and cottage cheese.
And that’s only the first of three daily meals for the firefighters at the Springer fire.
Houston’s Too Wildland Fire Support is providing more than 5,500 calories a day for the 320 firefighters.
“Food is very, very important to our firefighters,” said Greg Heule, spokesman for the Springer fire. “If the quality and quantity is not there then it is a bad thing for our firefighters.”
Pat Stange, manager for the catering service, said that the government will call them when there are Type 1 or Type 2 incident fires. Stange said it’s impossible to know the duration, but he and his co-workers may be on site for 4-8 days.
“It really depends on the incident,” Stange said. “It depends on the containment of the division lines.”
The 16-member food crew arrived Monday afternoon with eight 28-foot-long trailers used for cooking and preparing food.
Based in Grand Junction, the government-contracted catering group sets up a dining tent, breakfast bar, salad bar, provides hot breakfasts and dinners and sack lunches to provide fuel to fight the fire. The group is on-call from May to September to provide for firefighters all around the west.
And the catering company is crucial to helping fuel the firefighters. Heule said that even eating 5,500 calories a day — which is what the government requires them be fed, according to Heule — they will lose weight in 7-14 days.
“It’s amazing to watch those crews come through,” Heule said.
In addition to the breakfast that rounds out to about 2,000 calories, the firefighters receive sack lunches with a sandwich of meat and cheese, fresh whole fruit, power bars and wrapped up snacks. The dinners include a hot protein meat or vegetarian dish, fresh vegetables, a starchy food such as rice or mashed potatoes, a roll or bread, and a salad bar with a variety of toppings and dressings.
The food service provides iced tea, lemonade, fruit punch, and coffee, and there are huge supplies of water and Gatorade for the firefighters.
“It’s actually pretty cool,” said Stange. “The firefighters are really grateful.”
Heule said that while they appreciate the community’s offers of food and comfort treats for the firefighters, they cannot accept them because the food must meet government health and cleanliness standards. He suggested that community members donate to Wildland Firefighter Protection Fund, the Red Cross, or their local food banks.
“They need good, solid food,” Heule said.
Around Lake George, the local cafi and general store were feeling the presence of the firefighters, deputies and other officials, but neither was strapped for food sources.