As the Brentwood Fire Department and Williamson County Rescue Squad conducted a controlled burn, the Leadership Brentwood Alumni Association and Brentwood community added to the smoke while preparing a barbecue to honor the firefighters on Saturday.
The barbecue was organized by Williamson County Commissioner Tom Tunnicliffe, District 7, and Robert Nieman, who both spent the morning cooking ribs for the squad. Tunnicliffe said he and Nieman catered a graduation party and had leftover food, so they dropped it off at the fire department, which gave them the idea to have a barbecue in the firefighters’ honor.
“We just want to do things for those who give back to us. Their smiles and their gratefulness is amazing, so that’s what started this,” Tunnicliffe said.
“Our goal is to take it beyond just Brentwood — do it in Nolensville, do it in Franklin — other areas, and get the local community there to support it like the local community supported it here.”
As they prepared the meal at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, the fire department burned down an old, unused building on the property to make room for new homes. Todd Cothran, one of the home dads, said it made more sense to start a new building project from scratch than to try to renovate the old one.
“The building was going to cost so much money to bring it up to code, so it was just more feasible for us to tear it down,” he said. “So, when we got ready to tear it down, they said, hey, the fire department may want to train.”
Fire Chief Brian Goss said, three or four times a year when the fire department is asked to take a building down, the firefighters go through several rounds of lighting-controlled fires and putting them out to train in different areas of the building.
“It’s a great training opportunity for us, because it’s really the only opportunity we have to train with live fire in a realistic condition,” Goss said.
He explained that in order to have a controlled burn, they have to go through a process with the Department of Environment and Conservation to remove carpets, roofing and other features so the fire produces only light gray and white smoke rather than the black smoke normally produced by house fires.
When lunchtime came around, Tunnicliffe, Nieman and several other community members were prepared with a spread of ribs, baked beans, coleslaw and mac and cheese. Chad Collier from Papa C Pies also came with an assortment of his southern style pies.
“We usually have sub sandwiches at these things, so this is a treat,” Goss said.
Tunnicliffe said he also invited the sheriff’s department to the barbecue, explaining he wanted to serve first responders for their work.
“Those guys put their lives on the line for us,” he said. “So, I wanted to pay them back.”