BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - St George Fire Station number 62 was packed with people Tuesday, July 12. Children were running around fetching supplies and helping where they could. Firefighters had declared the day an extraordinary effort meant to support officers they knew were going through hardship. They cooked 884 jambalaya meals.
Their idea was to donate free lunches to not just BRPD, but EMS, Sheriff's Deputies, State Troopers, anyone who was in the area there at Baton Rouge Police Headquarters on Airline Highway.
Captain Jeremy Hurst says the whole idea started with one St. George firefighter. Robert Rainwater, now a firefighter 7 years with St. George, decided to pitch the idea.
"He knows a lot of police officers, sheriff's deputies, he's a people person, he's friends with all of them," Hurst said. "He was working overtime one day, he just started calling the guys on our shift, and said 'Ya'll wanta make jambalaya?' And so everyone showed up on their day off. The guys who were working, some of the guys, would help and someone who's NOT working would roll on the call so that everyone would get a chance to contribute."
Want to see Rainwater? Look at the big group picture of the Jambalaya Krewe. Rainwater is in the dead center of the group picture, with his arm around a comrade. He's under the word "Fight."
"That blue rag he has around his neck is for wiping down firetrucks. Don't know why he has that on!" Hurst laughs.
The food assembly line looks majority female, as women sling the jambalaya, a salad, all kinds of sweets (Rice Krispy treats, cookies, snacks). Hurst added, "...And tons of water, more water than we could carry! We know what they're going through in the heat, to try and stay hydrated!"
Fire Station 62 worked like a machine to turn out the hundreds of meals. Hurst does not remember that much chatter.
"Nobody really talked to what was going on as to protest or anything as that. We were just focused on helping out first responders, like police, fire department, deputies."
Hurst said they, the firefighters, see law enforcement out in the field, and it's a partnership.
"We can be on a first aid call, and a sheriff's deputy shows up. And I ask 'What are you doing here?' And he says, 'I was just nearby and thought you might need help'."
As firefighters, Hurst said, "We literally help people, that's all we do, we don't write tickets, and sometimes police get a bad rap for that. But we support them, and understand them."
Time came to make the delivery.
"We had a lot of guys in their personal vehicles, and our department has a flat-bed truck that we use when we go and test (fire) hose. We can load all the hose up on this thing."
We probably loaded it with jambalaya over its recommended capacity, Hurst laughed.
"And when we pulled up at Police HQ I don't think they knew what to think. They let us unload right at the door."