Rude Awakening: Maple Bacon Pancakes

By Frank E. Vaerewijck, “The Firehouse Foodie”

Firefighters coming up in the new fire service will never know what it’s like to wet the ceiling at 2 a.m. What in the world is he talking about, you ask? Well, my friends, those of you who have been in the fire service for some time know what it’s like to be abruptly woken up for a call at any hour by the “Klaxon.”

This fire bell is a motorized bell designed for fire alarm applications, and its recognizable alarm sound emanates from its robust steel gong at a heart-pumping audibility of 1m up to 95db (A). Inevitably, with the amount of available room in an ordinary bunk room, someone had to sleep directly under this device of reckoning. Thus, my statement: “Firefighters coming up in the new fire service will never know the what it’s like to wet the ceiling at 2 a.m.” because as you were snug in your rack dreaming sweet dreams, when the dispatcher received the call for help and rang your station, this dream killer would sound and scare the living bajeebies out of you, forcing you to pry yourself off the ceiling. Oh, you were awake alrighty, and performing your job was not a problem, but as technology and studies have shown, there are better ways to awaken firefighters and medics, reducing the immediate stress of such a demanding job. With the advent of technology, it is much less stressful being woken up by gentle tones and a normal voice notifying which units need to respond.

Those of us who have been in the fire service for a while have adapted and I, for one, sleep very lightly when on shift, attempting to keep an ear out for the radio while trying to get some rest. The future is here and now lights automatically come on, those gentle tones and voices are much easier on the heart, and no one is wetting the ceiling anymore. The fire service is changing, and the icons of the past are now part of the great laughs that we share with the newbies around the kitchen table over coffee and some Maple Bacon Pancakes. Now “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”

Maple Bacon Pancakes


Makes: 5 Servings



  • 4 ounces bacon
  • 1 cup baking mix
  • 1¼ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup milk



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together baking mix, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, milk, maple syrup, sugar, and eggs until only small lumps of cheese remain. Pour into prepared pie plate.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of pancake comes out clean. Sprinkle bacon and remaining 1/2 cup cheese over top of pancake. Bake until cheese melts, about 3 to 5 minutes.

ENJOY those stories and good laughs!


Frank E. Vaerewijck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department (yes, where the bacon comes from, THAT Smithfield). He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program. As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.

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