In a usual year, J. Scott Brooks, Captain of Loss Prevention at the West Chester Fire Department (WCFD), leads outreach programs in the community. These past two years have been anything but usual. Under COVID conditions, the WCFD did what they do best—they adapted. To safely educate the public, the department developed a firehouse cookbook to promote fire safety and healthy cooking.
“We promoted it as ‘Real meals, prepared by real heroes,’” Scott explains. “We hope people are getting a lot of really good recipes.”
The West Chester Fire Department: Firehouse Cookbook includes 58 favorite recipes of our local heroes, submitted by West Chester’s own first responders. The downloadable cookbook also includes tips for cooking safety and printable activity sheets with lessons and puzzles for children.
“We have found that the number one cause of fires in West Chester is cooking related,” Scott says. “We involve the kids because they are starting to work in the kitchen a lot younger than they used to.”
“Our fire safety message remains constant,” he adds. “We’d like to see cooking fires go away altogether.”
WCFD crews work on call for 24-hour shifts. Their teamwork extends into the kitchen where they prepare and eat meals together. Much like a typical busy family, they have to be efficient and adjust to whatever each day holds. Their recipes are quick and tasty.
The WCFD urges residents to teach children safe kitchen habits while cooking up some of their favorite firehouse meals. Enjoy these two recipes, courtesy of the Tuesday crew at Station 71 of the West Chester Fire Department. Download your copy of the cookbook for more recipes like these online at
Fire Safety Tips
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Follow these tips for fire safety and prevention:
Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
Never leave the kitchen when cooking.
Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
Unplug kitchen appliances when not in use.
Tips are courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA.org
BBQ Chicken Pizza
+ 12-inch Pre-baked pizza crust
+ Olive oil
+ Garlic powder
+ ½ cup Barbecue sauce
+ ½ Red onion, sliced
+ ½ Green Pepper, sliced
+ 1 cup Cooked chicken breast
+ 1 cup Shredded mozzarella cheese
While it didn’t make it into the cookbook, this bonus recipe is a WCFD favorite. It is a quick and easy meal, from the oven to the table in under 30 minutes, especially with a team approach to meal prep. A firefighters’ time-saving tip is to shred the cooked chicken on the slow setting of a stand mixer. Many of the crew enjoy spicy barbecue sauce on this delicious twist on traditional pizza.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Drizzle crust with olive oil. Season with garlic powder and dried basil, to taste. Bake for 5 minutes. Grill chicken on medium high heat for 5-8 minutes. Shred cooked chicken and set aside. Spread barbecue sauce on crust. Place onions and peppers on top of sauce. Add chicken. Top with cheese. Bake for 8–10 additional minutes, until the crust is crispy and the sauce bubbles. Slice and serve.
Chicken, Green Bean + Bacon Pasta
+ 12 ounces penne pasta
+ 8 ounces green beans, halved
+ 4 slices bacon
+ 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch chunks
+ 2 tablespoons lemon juice
+ 1 large egg yolk
+ 2 tablespoons half-and-half
+ 5 ounces baby spinach
+ 1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
+ 2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cook pasta, adding green beans during last minute. Reserve ½ cup pasta water. Drain. Cook bacon until crisp. Break into pieces when cool. Save 1 tablespoon bacon drippings to cook chicken on medium heat, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk yolk and half-and-half. Toss with pasta and green beans. Add rest of the ingredients plus ¼ cup pasta water (add more as needed). Top with bacon.