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Massena firefighters holding chicken barbecue fundraiser

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MASSENA - It may be the dead of winter, but that’s not stopping from the Massena Volunteer Fire Department from firing up their grill.

They’ll be hosting one of their annual fundraisers, a chicken barbecue, from 11 a.m. until they’re all sold out today at the fire station.

“We usually do it during the winter carnival,” Tom St. Pier, the department’s publicity chair, said. “But we didn’t have one this year during the winter carnival.”

Still, they didn’t want to break the tradition of having the February chicken barbecue, one of only two held during the year.

“We have one this month. We also have one in July” during the annual car show and block dance in downtown Massena, Mr. St. Pier said.

The meal includes one-half chicken, macaroni salad, baked beans and roll and butter for $8 a plate. But, he said, it’s all first-come, first-served.

“We usually sell out. We like to sell out. Usually it’s an hour-and-a-half or two hours for the one in July and maybe a little longer this time,” Mr. St. Pier said.

He said fundraisers like the chicken barbecues are essential to the department’s budget, since the money is used to upgrade their equipment.

“They are our biggest (fundraisers). We don’t have a field day anymore. In its place we do chicken,” Mr. St. Pier said.

There is always a need to upgrade their gear, according to the publicity chair.

“We upgrade our turnout gear. They don’t last forever any more. We have to upgrade every so many years. Upgrading is costly,” he said.

One of the recent changes in the gear was the addition of belts in turnout pants that would allow firefighters to hook to a tower. They also need life ropes in case they need to bail out of a window, Mr. St. Pier said.

So, he said, the money they raise is put to good use while providing a hearty meal for the community.

The firefighters will start preparing early in the morning in anticipation of the crowd that will hit the station at 11 a.m., Mr. St. Pier said.

“We’re starting to cook tomorrow morning. You’ll drive downtown and smell the chicken cooking,” he said.

Meals are available for dining in or taking out, or free delivery can be arranged by calling 769-2380.

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