SAFRE Wrap-Up and a Top Ten List You Don’t Want to Miss!


In our travels, we bump into John Salka a lot. However, this is the first photo we have taken with him. w/ Steven Burke and Andrew Catron

I just got back from an awesome time at the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo (SAFRE) in Raleigh, NC. This was my first time attending the show and I will definitely be back next year. First of all, thank you to everyone I got to hang out with, you men and women really make this event one of the best in the World.

For those of you who didn’t make it, SAFRE is a regional show in that it is for the South Atlantic and mostly brings in firefighters from North Carolina. However, it is only a regional show because others don’t know that it REALLY ISN’T a regional show. The truth is that this event is what all others should base their shows on. The scope of the event is amazing. Besides the expo floor, fire

Headed out to Raleigh!

Headed out to Raleigh!

apparatus, exhibitors, a keynote (this year was Salka), classroom, and hot classes that you would expect at a fire expo…there is also a BBQ contest (ribs and smoked pork), a candlelight service, parade, firefighter competition, 1905 steamer exhibit, the Steven Siller 9/11 Never Forget exhibit, a 5K run, cornhole tournament, haz mat challenge…and of course Pipes and Drums. SAFRE all but takes over downtown Raleigh.

The truth is that SAFRE should be rebranded as a National expo. It was so much better than Firehouse Expo the week before, however we did have a blast at Firehouse Expo! There were something like 70+ apparatus at SAFRE. Call me guys…I have some ideas!

This is going to be a long post, so bear with me. It will be worth it.

Captain Wines wrap-up here article here

Lee Wilson PhotosMike Legeros PhotosWake Forest News Photos

The BBQ Throwdown

prep-for-the-2014-BBQ-Throwdown-SAFRELast year, I heard about the BBQ throwdown competition and knew that I wanted to compete this year. Captain Wines and I bought a smoker just 3 weeks ago for this event. We packed up and headed to SAFRE. Captain Wines ( his wife Donna pulled the camper, I pulled the cooker. Andrew Catron ( joined us as well and brought some other stuff to ensure we had everything we needed. We got into town around 12:30 and were able to begin setting up. The competition would go from 7pm til 7am. While the rules were very strict, they weren’t all enforced. We rolled with the challenges of keeping up and it being our first time competing anywhere. Luckily for us, the guys from Davie FD,  Lake Norman FD, and Mooresville FD were right their by our sides helping out (Neel Brawley, Chad Furr, Chris Thompson, Justin Cagle, Mike Manning, Jason and Jesse Shotwell). It was amazing how involved they wanted to be. What was even more amazing was the amount of beer they drank! The rib competition was first. Our ribs were due by 10:30pm. While I cooked the best tasting ribs I have ever made, they simply didn’t win. I learned a lot though.

We continued on with cooking the pork. Captain Wines only made it to 9:30. He missed the entire rib competition, but somehow remembers how great they were…they were gone before he woke up, so I don’t know how he tasted them.

10430511_10152266997237849_5425538015552682653_nDid I mention it rained? Yes, we got dumped on. It rained like hell twice for about a half hour each time. I began to wonder if we should have brought a boat.

Our booth was busy with visitors throughout the night. Our last visitors left around 3:30am and then some returned around 8am just after the pork was turned in.

I was able to get a quick nap in sometime during the night.

They picked 5 teams for the top 5 out of 17 teams and announced the winners on the show floor. We didn’t make the cut. It is what it is…we learned a lot and will continue our quest next year.

Capital Area FOOLS Brotherhood Bash

10488022_10203369302186536_2590731462114228832_nOn Friday night, after about 1.5 hours of sleep, we headed to Napper Tandy’s for the Brotherhood Bash. I had no idea this event would be as big as it was. It was probably similar size as the FDIC bash, and much larger than the Firehouse Expo Bash to put it into perspective. The event raised $4500 for the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Fund.

Supersonic played great music all night.

The highlights of the night were the NC Brotherhood Pipes and Drums playing and getting to meet so many great NC Brothers and Sisters. It was also apparent that the Sisterhood was represented well.

Captain Wines and I handed out the rest of our patches and coins and received several in return.

Be sure to tag me or The Fire Critic in your photos if you share them on Facebook or Instagram.

Mike Legeros photo

Mike Legeros photo


On Saturday, we again returned to the expo and soon were heading to the parade. We got to ride on a one of a kind (from what I understand) Mack CF pumper with an all stainless steel body. I consider this the DeLorean of fire apparatus. We had a smooth ride and enjoyed the route through downtown Raleigh.

Next year, more departments should bring their apparatus for the parade!

Top Ten Best things about the North Carolina Fire Rescue Expo

  1. Our BBQ Team. Yes, this had to be the best thing about the Expo. Our team was tops…like a bunch of honeybadgers. AND the fact that our booth was packed all night long!
  2. Jeff Harkey. Jeff is a consultant to the NCSFA and someone who I think does a great job at putting the polish on the event.
  3. Mike Legeros. Mike is a photographer in Raleigh as well as the historian for the Raleigh FD. Photos here
  4. Lee Wilson. Lee is a fire photographer in the Raleigh area. Photos here
  5. NC Brotherhood Pipes and Drums (Facebook page here)
  6. BBQ Throwdown. Although we didn’t win, we aren’t butthurt over it. We will be back!
  7. Capital Area FOOLS Brotherhood Bash. Cheers! (Facebook page here)
  8. Raleigh FD’s 1905 Metropolitan Steamer…and the fact that the guys operate this thing like a champ! (Video below)
  9. NCSFA. The State Firemen’s association for putting on one hell of an event!
  10. NC Firefighters. I haven’t met one I didn’t like! AND For treating these Virginia Boys like family!

Here are some photos from the event. Click on them for clearer/larger images.