Who can take it hottest? The Poudre Fire Authority will answer that question this week when it serves bowls of chili to more than 200 student contestants at residence halls every day this week at its fifth annual Chili Challenge, an event to raise awareness of National Fire Prevention Week.
Sponsored by Cholula and Dave’s Hot Sauce, the five-day competition will take place daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Parmelee Hall.
Each day of the competition, the PFA will serve an 8-ounce bowl of chili to each registered contestant. The bowls will become progressively spicier throughout the week, and the students who finish their bowls every day will receive an “I survived” T-shirt.
“I’m stoked. I love it,” said Crystal Elmore, the marketing coordinator for Dining Services. “It’s different than a banquet or an ice cream social.”
Elmore said the shirts students earn “are pretty coveted” and that students will often show up wearing shirts from previous years.
Some students compete all four years they are in school, she said, and even some who have graduated show up to compete.
Although registration ended last Friday, Elmore said hopeful contestants will be admitted on a walk-in basis.
Elmore said the chili is made with a secret spice mix, composed of Cholula sauce and Dave’s Ultimate Insanity Sauce and fresh chilies — “even habaneros.”
Ray Gillan, a firefighter with the PFA, said he enjoys the part the firefighters get to play in the competition, particularly the interaction with students.
“Oh it’s great,” Gillan said. “It gives us an opportunity to get in and see the kids on a personal level.”
Gillan said several fires in recent years have killed students, and that the PFA will promote fire safety at the challenge to help students live safely on or off campus.
PFA personnel will park a fire engine at Parmelee so that firefighters at the event can be on-call to fight fires. Gillian said firefighting equipment, such as hoses, nozzles axes and other tools, will be present at the competition to help educate students.
He said the department will also play feature films like “Backdraft” or “Ladder 49” or display pictures of fires from around the area.
Gillan, who has been a part of the competition for a number of years, said the PFA is excited for the challenge.
“It’s not ‘run in’ and ‘put out’ stuff.” Gillan said. “We have a blast doing it.”
Staff writer Jim Sojourner can be reached at email@example.com