Firehouse cooking

by Adam Drapcho

The on-duty life of a full-time firefighter is unpredictable, with the potential for a high-stress emergency call to come in at any moment, at any hour of the day. In the winter, those calls could require firefighters to spend a lot of time outdoors, in very cold conditions. Working together in these conditions, firefighters and paramedics establish a bond of camaraderie between one another. When there's a break in the action, fire fighters often look forward to sharing a meal with their shift mates.

J.P. Hobby, a firefighter and paramedic who has been with the Laconia Fire Department for 15 years, said the fire service's unique lifestyle is a perfect match for a particular kitchen implement: the slow cooker.

"Especially this time of year, we'll to some crock pot meals," he said. "Chili or stew, or chowder in the crock pot, so that it's all done and everyone gets the chance to sit down and have a hot meal at some point."

As if fighting fires and responding to car accidents in frigid temperatures wasn't enough winter fun, firefighters also shovel out all of the city's fire hydrants after each snow storm. On days such as those, Hobby said everyone looks forward to coming back to the fire station for a hot bowl of "Two Can Chili."

The duplicitous recipe calls for two pounds of meat, browned with two onions, then, "Two cans of kidney beans, two cans of black beans, two cans of tomatoes, it's just two cans, two cans, two cans until the crock pot's full," he said.

"Simple things like that make you happy when you've been out shoveling hydrants all day." He noted that firefighters, not the taxpayers, pay for the groceries.

At the Tilton-Northfield Fire Department, the recipes that Captain David Hall has developed in the fire house have earned him awards at the Granite State Dairy Promotion Mac and Cheese Cook-Off, such as his recipe that incorporates bits of cheese that are fried to crisp, then folded into the dish.

"Have you ever eat the burnt cheese off a pan? You ever like it? That's how I came up with it," said Hall, a 12 year veteran of the Tilton-Northfield Department, who said he learned to cook while stationed at the Army's Fort Drum in New York.

"We didn't go to chow hall, we just cooked for ourselves," he recalled. At the T-N FD, Hall said there are three people on per shift. "You try to make the rookie cook as much as possible, but we rotate pretty evenly," he said.

Although his mac and cheese is the most notable dish, Hall said they do make healthy meals as well as the hearty ones. The people sitting around the table are just as important as what's on the plate, said Hall.

"We're all eating together," he said. "It helps promote family values, helps promote team work."

At the Belmont Fire Department, 20-year veteran Lieutenant Mike Newhall has become known as the meat guy.

"I cook mostly beef – apparently I do one hell of a prime rib. I don't know how it comes out that well, but it does." He has developed a special treatment for the beef that he calls the "Firehouse Rub," which is, "Anything in the cupboard, mix it up and rub it on the roast and put it in the oven."

After doing a job that ranges from stressful, to difficult, to perilous, sitting down for a meal is a welcome comfort.

Said Newhall, "There's a group you that can come together.. It's kind of a family-type environment."

Lieutenant Mike Newhall of Belmont Fire Department is known for his prime rib. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Lieutenant Mike Newhall of Belmont Fire Department is known for his prime rib. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)

Sheriff holds city man for probation violations


LACONIA — A local man convicted for criminal threatening in the summer of 2015 and released from jail in October has been arrested by the Belknap County Sheriff's Office for allegedly failing to abide by any of the terms of his probation.

The sheriff's department said Chad O'Connor, 24, had never reported to the Laconia Office of the New Hampshire Division of Probation and Parole since his release from the Belknap County House of Corrections. He had allegedly not registered any address, either.

O'Connor threatened a women at her home on McGrath Street in May of 2015 by allegedly waiving a gun in front of the camera that was recording the outside of her home. During the prosecution, the Belknap County Attorney's officer dropped the gun charges in exchange for a guilty plea for criminal threatening and a sentence of one year with four months suspended pending good behavior. With 128 days of time served and the four months that were suspended, he was released in October.

After the incident on McGrath Street, police searched for O'Connor for four days. He was spotted by them a few times but managed to elude them. At one point, he was in an apartment on Fair Street but escaped through a back window while the resident of the apartment building held up the police for just enough time for him to get away.

He was caught on May 11 by a city patrol officer after a foot chase. No gun was recovered.

In 2014, O'Conner jumped into the Winnipesaukee River in an attempt to evade police who wanted to talk to him about a domestic violence incident on Fair Street. When told to come back to shore, he did, but didn't have a vest he had been wearing. Police and firefighters searched the river for the vest but never found it. Police believed at the time there was some evidence in it.

On Wednesday, the sheriff's department said it received information that O'Connor was staying at a home on Blueberry Lane, where he was arrested without incident.

Belmont Police warn people to take care if discarded needles are found

BELMONT — Police said since January of 2015 the department has responded to 29 calls about discarded needles. The needles were reported by citizens observing them discarded along roads, in public places and by business owners who find them and other drug paraphernalia discarded in their rest rooms and trash bins.

While state and local police departments as well a other community groups battle a surge in the use of heroin and other intravenous drugs, discarding of used needles in public places is becoming common place.

Police said discarded needle presents a danger to people who find them and are warning them not to touch them. A further suggestion to parents of younger children is for adults to check public rest rooms before their children use them.

If someone sees a discarded needle, they should immediately notify the police who will employ local fire officials who are trained and equipped to dispose of them. Police ask that pet owners also keep an eye out for needles so their pets are not accidentally harmed.

Anone accidentally stuck by a used needle should immediately wash the exposed area right away with water and soap or use a skin disinfectant (antiseptic) such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer and seek immediate medical attention by calling a doctor or a local hospital.

If you come across a discarded needle, notify your local police department of it and mark the area so police and fire officials know where to find it.

Business or restaurant employees who find needles should report them immediately to a supervisor who will notify authorities.

Police said the purpose of this media statement is not to alarm residents but to inform them of the dangers inherent in discarded needles and to encourage them to call police immediately.

– Gail Ober