Guns and Hoses: Serving the community a special fare
By Kassidi Moore
For The Weekly
BUCKSPORT — The people of Bucksport are used to police, fire and rescue workers keeping them safe, but having public safety satisfy their hunger is a relatively new experience for townspeople.
With food names like “5-Alarm” and “Blue Line,” the members of Guns and Hoses have combined their calling to take care of the community with their cooking abilities to offer special fare at local events.
In the summer of 2015, the Bucksport Police Department, Emergency Medical Technicians and Fire Department started the community outreach program, Guns and Hoses. Similar programs of the same name are deployed throughout the United States and Maine.
Bucksport Police Chief Sean Geagan came across the idea from a fellow police officer in Caribou. The group’s startup coincided with the closing of the Verso mill in late 2014, but it wasn’t the reason the program began, Geagan said. It was just a happy coincidence and just what the town needed at the time, he said.
The 87-year-old Bucksport mill, which employed approximately 500 people, closed in late 2014. In a town that was home to 4,924 people in 2010, a 500-job loss could have been devastating. The people of Bucksport were determined to not let the loss of the mill hurt morale in the town.
“This community is a great community,” said Geagan. “After everything we’ve been through in the past three or four years, with the mill and all that stuff, so, I think it’s grown stronger. It’s amazing how many people come together.”
The events usually involve music, and always involve food that has become a focal point of the Guns and Hoses events.
“There are a couple guys in the fire department, and they love to cook. What they come up with is just amazing, and it tastes really, really good,” said Geagan. “Like, holy cow!”
One of the chefs of Guns and Hoses, Assistant EMS Director Christopher Connor, conceives masterful sauces. Connor might as well trademark and put a monopoly on these infamous burgers, as he is the only one who knows the full recipe.
“He’ll never tell you all of it, but he’ll tell you some of it if you ask a few questions,” said Geagan.
“Well, yeah! I mean we have to [keep it secret] don’t we? If we gave away our secret, no one would come eat our food,” said Connor. “As much as you’d love to have the sauce recipes, I keep that close to my chest.”
Aside from the sauce, the inner workings of the burger were decided by four members of Guns and Hoses sitting around a table discussing what they would want to see on a burger.
“It isn’t just the sauce, it’s everything else. It’s a combination that most people don’t expect. You don’t expect to have coleslaw on your burger,” said Connor.
Yes, he did say coleslaw. Connor, along with the other three chefs, decided that they didn’t want to sell a run-of-the-mill burger thrown on a bun. Along with the coleslaw, and of course, the burger and bun, bacon and cheese top off the burger. “Everybody loves bacon,” said Connor.
The coleslaw and beef is bought and made/ground, respectively, at Tozier’s Family Market at Bucksport.
The summer’s first event from Guns and Hoses kicked off at the Bucksport Municipal Pool on June 24th. For the first time, free hot dogs were served as the main course accompanied by chips, drinks and cake. This event celebrated the Recreation Department Director Tim Emery’s retirement after 40 years of dedication.
“Rock the Waterfront: Music at the Marina” will be headlining doughboys on June 30. This event is organized by Bucksport Municipal Marina and catered by Guns and Hoses. Jake Irish and Between Dead Stations will be performing at the waterfront. The concert is free.
Don’t worry, you burger lovers. The burgers will be brought back on the summer’s last event.
The Guns and Hoses will be partnering with Wednesday on Main for the July 5 event. Wednesday on Main hosts a community event every Wednesday of the summer on Main Street Bucksport. Wednesday on Main brought the Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers to the Alamo Theatre to kick off the summer. Geagan said the event filled the 125-seat theater.
Attendees of the latter two events will need to pay for the food with cash. All proceeds go towards Guns and Hoses future events. Donations are accepted.
Geagan said the goal is to host events, or partner with other groups, a few times a year. While they would love to do more, someone has to work, Geagan said.
“You can tell you’ve been successful when you have to start limiting what you do,” said Geagan.
Through all the hard work, the sauce inventions and the food tastings in the station, it’s all about the community coming together to relax.
“Usually when we get called, especially the fire and ambulance, EMT and even the police department, we’re typically, we’re called when people are in their worst times,” said Connor. “So, for them to see us in a different light, to interact with us in a different light, it’s always a good thing. It’s good for us to give back to the public, too.”
“I think the Guns and Hoses helped people see that we’re in a tough time, but we’re not going anywhere,” said Geagan. “So let’s get together and make this work, and it worked well.”