Firefighters turn out for annual dance

The party is on. 

Paradise Valley firefighters — with the support of Chico Hot Springs Resort — will host its 21st annual Firefighters Christmas Ball tomorrow night. 

The doors to the Chico Hot Springs Conference Center open at 7 p.m. A cash bar and hors d’oeuvres will be available as partygoers have a chance to peruse the silent auction goods on display. At 8 p.m., the Big Sky-based country-rock band Bottom of the Barrel will start playing.

“They’re a great party band and a lot of fun,” said Captain Cris Fowle, Paradise Valley Fire & EMS Senior Medical Officer. 

Band member Jeff Bellino said Friday the band played the event last year, too. It was a lot of fun and the crowd was great, he said. 

But he was a little taken aback at last year’s event when the department got a fire call. 

“Eight guys got up and left just as we came on to play,” Bellino laughed. 

It’s all in support of the Paradise Valley Firefighters Association, Fowle said. 

The money raised was initially raised to provide a fund to help volunteer firefighters financially if they were injured on a call. 

“Most of our volunteers are ranchers and farmers,” Fowle said. “They don’t have a way to support their families if they get hurt.” 

The funds are used to help an injured volunteer with medical, travel or other expenses.

Over time, the fund has expanded its mission and helps not just local firefighters, but firefighters from other companies and even local families needing help after a fire, Fowle said. 

The funds are also used to purchase items for the department that supplement its regular budget. 

For one example, the fire department recently purchased a new wildland fire truck. The firefighters association paid for the truck’s bumper and a winch, Fowle said. 

Fowle said the volunteer fire department has 21 active members on its current roster, and they make about 120 calls each year. Most are EMS calls involving motor vehicle accidents, Fowle said, but they also work on forest fires, like the Pine Creek and Big Creek fires of recent years. 

The Paradise Valley Firefighters Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed by the firefighters themselves, not the trustees or other elected officials, Fowle explained. 

Saturday’s dance is the organization’s major annual fundraiser. 

Fowle said the event is a communitywide event that has become a tradition with many. 

“It’s a community gathering that people look forward to,” Fowle said. “It’s always the Saturday after Thanksgiving.” 

The event includes a number of unique silent auction items, and Fowle jokes it’s a great place to shop for Christmas presents. 

There’s a signed photograph of the wreck of the Titanic, by underwater photographer and Valley resident Al Giddings. 

And there are several weekend getaway packages for Yellowstone National Park and Chico Hot Springs. 

Fowle credits the popular resort for being a “huge supporter” of the event. 

Admission is $10 per person, $15 per couple or $25 per family. 



Liz Kearney may be reached at