Bonfire, Fireworks Highlight Blacktip Island Fire Department Fundraiser


The Blacktip Island Volunteer Fire Department tests fireworks Thursday night in preparation for Saturday’s fireworks show to raise money for new firefighting equipment.

A community bonfire and fireworks display will highlight the Blacktip Island Volunteer Fire Department’s Saturday fundraiser to pay for a new fire truck and firefighting equipment.

“Our buckets are rusted out and our little Isuzu needs a new starter,” fire chief Smokey Diesel said. “And a new grill and radiator and, well, engine, after Dermott crashed it into that tree during last week’s drill.

“We’ve been making do with whatever we could scrounge,” Diesel said. “But there’s only so many scooters and milk jugs on the island. And two big guys sharing a scooter, well, it’s not the professional image we’d like.”

Many locals are eager for the event, which will also feature hot wings- and jalapeno-eating contests, coal-walking lessons and water pistol fights for island children.

“It’s always a laugh to see things burn and fly through the air and explode,” island resident Lee Helm said. “Especially if it’s for a good cause. And there’s beer served.”

Other locals were skeptical.

“There’s not that much call for a fire department on this island,” resident Frank Maples said. “It’s mostly dumpster fires. On Friday and Saturday nights. Only thing they need for that’s a garden hose.”

Government officials were noncommittal.

“We’re self sufficient here on Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “There’s no government funding for anything. That truck and those buckets were donations to begin with. If Smokey wants new toys, he’s welcome to raise all the money he wants.”

Firefighters hope the event sways public opinion.

“The wiener roast and bottle rocket shoot-off will raise money, sure. And it’s always good to see smiles on the kiddo’s faces,” Diesel said. “But it’ll also show folks our volunteers’ firefighting skills in action.

“It’s win-win, really,” Diesel said. “When people see how we handle a big bonfire, that builds their confidence in us. And if a stray spark starts a blaze that gets out of hand, well, then they’ll see first hand the need for a better-equipped fire department.”

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