Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

This week we’re going to speak with Matt Jones. He’s a fire fighter and he heads up the Fire Fighters Charitable Activities. Because it’s fall and that means Fire Fighter Chili Cookoff is coming. It’s back after two years, it’s downtown and we’re going to get the scoop coming up shortly.

Today is October 9th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app. Reach us by email [email protected] — interact with us on Facebook at LifeAlongTheStreetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from Real Group, “Chilli Con Carne.”

Transcript (Unedited)

Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the old Weblow and you’re listening to K T DT Tucson. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson community sponsored rock and roll radio station.

This week we’re going to speak with Matt Jones. He’s a fire fighter and he heads up the Fire Fighters Charitable Activities. Because it’s fall and that means Fire Fighter Chili Cookoff is coming. It’s back after two years, it’s downtown and we’re going to get the scoop coming up shortly.

Today is October 9, 2022. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to life along the streetcar. Each and every Sunday are focused on social, cultural, and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core. And we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From a mountain to the University of Arizona and all stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 99 One FM [email protected] Also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio Tucson app. If you want to reach us on the show, our email address is [email protected] That URL will take you to all of our past episodes. Our podcast is itunes spotify most of those places you’re going to find your favorite podcasts. And of course, we’re on the old social media with Facebook and Instagram really encourage you to head over there, give us a like and a share, let the world know what we’re doing and maybe tag us in a few

things that we should know about. Well, last week we had the information on Film Fest Tucson. And as I was posting that and researching, I realized we have the Tucson Film and Music Festival happening this weekend. So next weekend is Film Fest Tucson. That’s at the Scottish Right and AC and Marriott as well as Main Gate Square this weekend at the screening room. Started on Friday and goes through there’s some shows this evening as part of the Film and Music Festival, the Tucson Film and Music Festival. And then in two weeks after the Film Fest Tucson, we have the terror fest. So if you are a movie person, you don’t have to leave downtown. Head over to the screening room this weekend, the Scottish Wright next weekend, and then back to the screen room the following weekend. All kinds of things happening. It’s the fall, so it’s a great time to do things in Tucson. And fall also means it’s a great time for us to have some delicious chili in Tucson because we have the firefighters annual cookoff.

This is the 25th firefighter Chili cookoff. It took a break because of covet. Obviously that was not a great idea to get everybody together, but it’s back. It’s going to be at Armory Park. And we sat down with Matt Jones to get the details of what we can expect about this 25th annual firefighter Chili Cook off.


I’m Matthew Jones and I’m the charities director with the Tucson Firefighters Association. Local four seven nine.

How long have you been in this role?

I have only been in this role for, I believe three months now, maybe. I’m very new to this role. Yes.

Alright, so the proverbial drinking from a fire hose is really appropriate for you. Do you mind me asking what you did prior to getting into this role?

Well, I mean, everyone involved with the Local Four Seven Nine and in these roles is actually a firefighter with TFD Tucson Fire. As far as getting into this role, it is a union role and I just found my way into it. I did a couple of charity events. I seemed to kind of like doing this. It did just fit what I liked doing. And then when the position became available, I put my name in the hat and it got drawn out.

So is this like a volunteer position? During the week you’re a firefighter and then on your off time you’re running the charities?

Well, I wish it was just my off time. It’s a 24/7 job at some point, as I’m learning with this chili hook office, there’s a lot of logistical things and set up and such that goes with an event of this size and so it’s more of all the time and it is a paid position. It is something that our membership will pay me for, but it’s also a great time. It’s something I’m learning and it’s very rewarding in other aspects.

I can imagine the work that you’ve done in the communities just as an organization is tremendous and we’ll dig into a lot of that. But the big reason for the call today is coming up next week on the 15th at Armory Park is an event where a couple of people get together and serve some chili or something.

Yes. So next week at October 15 is our firefighter chili cook off at Armory Park. It starts at 10:00 and it’s scheduled to go till 100 or run out of Chile. And that’s personally one of my favorite events. Like you said, we like to get back to the community and this is one of the better ways we do that.

Yeah, I’ve been to a few of these. I haven’t been to one in Army Park. There was one at El Presidio in sort of a complex there and then of course, Reed parks at it for several years. Is this your first year at Army Park or have you been yes. Okay.

It’s our first year at Army Park. We’re trying to get back to that centralized. There was a lot of success and a lot of people showing up to the Presidio. We noticed kind of a downfall in the amount of people that were coming to read and so we’re going back to see if maybe we can get that more involvement. Maybe it’s just the location and people coming in. There will be more of a draw for that.

Well, as someone who spends a lot of time downtown, I’m excited to have you back. I’ve been to a few of these, but I understand this is also a milestone for the cookoff. This is your 25th?

25Th, yeah.

Wow. And this is not just Tucson firefighters. These are firefighters from all over the area. Correct. That come together?

Absolutely, yes. We have Northwest. We have Davis, Montan. We have three points. We have Pascua, we have all these neighboring departments also get in on this. So it’s not just our Tucson firefighters doing it, it’s everyone around. They’re coming in to provide chile for people to come in and enjoy and entertainment through some of the bands that are playing and put on quite a show in an event for the public and to raise money for a great cause.

Well, let’s talk a little bit about the show because this is not just an opportunity to show up and taste a little bit of chili. First of all, there’s some really good chili from some of these different organizations, but it’s also the show. Can you kind of set the stage as to what the park is going to look like and all the time that goes into setting up the booths.

So the booths, they’ll be set in a nice big kind of semicircle. If you’ve been to the Re Park version, you’ll be very familiar with it, where it kind of opens towards the stage area, kind of brings everyone in there so they can see the stage from where the chili is and they’ll get a taste of kind of the music that’s playing. And we’ll have some dancers there. We’ll have all sorts of stuff going on.

Yeah. And then the firefighters themselves as they’re setting up these booths. These things have been some spectacular works of art.

Absolutely. Yes. It’s up to their creativity and kind of their resources and how much they’re able to put into it. And this year we actually have new booths that are made of metal, so we’ll see if maybe they hold up to some of these impressive boots that people make. I know the last chili cookoff on 2019, there was a booth that I think went up to about 30ft in height, just based on what they built. They built this basically kind of almost a second building on top of it. So it was quite impressive to see.

Yeah, I think if you head over it’s, probably on your Facebook page, I saw it somewhere. There were some examples of the past and there were interactive ones. Smoke was coming out of these. And it was just amazing to me that the creativity of this group to come up with all of these different ideas and themes for the cookoff.

Absolutely. It is always an impressive theme.

So then you get together. You’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is a wildly popular event. How do people get tickets for that do you get them in advance or do you get them at the day.

Of well, the event itself is actually free admission because we want people to come and enjoy the atmosphere, whether or not they want to pay to be there. Maybe they just come to see and interact with the firefighters. They want to bring the kids down to see it, and they don’t want to spend money to get in there. So we want everybody to come. The only thing that we charge for is the tickets to buy the chili. And some of the other things that we offer, such as this year, they’ll be a churro truck, we’ll have ice truck. So your tickets go towards that. So we invite everyone to come. And that’s why we don’t want to charge for people to get in there.

Okay, but the tickets you’ll buy at the location when you okay. And again, from someone who’s done this in the past, you probably don’t want to wait till the very last bit of it, because some of these, even though they make a lot of chili, sometimes they will run out because they get so popular.

Absolutely. Sometimes they go quick. We’ve had people run out at four or five in the afternoon before because the rush came and it was so good. People kept coming back.

Yeah, it’s not for a lack of chili because they really try not letting them out of chili, come out of these boosters you’re seeing them set up. And I’m excited because, like you said, you haven’t done it since 2019. So I’m thinking, okay, we’ve got a couple of years where they’ve been formulating how they’re going to launch this, and this is absolutely going to be a big show. Is there a lot of competition among the different departments? Is there a judging? Like, who’s going to win?

Or we give out three different ones. We’ll have a judging panel that will give out the classic best chili and the best booth as well, because we want to reward those people for putting on the show, putting in the effort to build this and make this amazing piece of almost art to show to the public. But we also have a third award where it’s the people that maybe it’s a smaller station, so they couldn’t put as much effort into the booth. Their chili is good and such, but they’re out there. They’re interacting with the public and showing having a great time and really showing what it’s like to be who we are as firefighters. Just fun individuals being out there and interacting. So we give out a Spirit Award to those people. Okay. It’s all based on judging panel, so it’s kind of a competition amongst everybody. I know last year, I’m sorry, 2019, Davis Monton took home the best chili. And so we’re kind of hoping to bring that one back.

Okay, so has the Tucson department been pretty primarily the winner of this? Do you tend to have the best chili?

Unfortunately, I don’t know. I see little bits and pieces of the plaques around stations that I go to, but I couldn’t formulate this is how traditionally we want it.

Got you. And it’s not just Tucson Fire Department. So each station might have their own entry as well. So you could have absolutely, yes.

It could be a station, it could be a group. It’s whoever wants to put a booth.

Together with Matthew Jones. He’s the charities director for the Tucson Firefighters charities here in Tucson talking about the chili cook off happening October 15. And we’ll be back to wrap up our interview with him in just a moment. But first of all, I want to remind you that you are listening to Lifelong Streetcar on downtown Radio 99 One FF, available for streaming on

Greetings and salutations, downtown radio listeners. Haley O Dave, your unfrozen caveman DJ, here to spread the good word about the Scrambled Sunrise rock mix happening every weekday morning from seven to 09:00 A.m. Right here on downtown radio from the earliest days of psych punk and new wave to 80s college rock, 90s alternative and the ongoing wave of 21st century indie rock. It’s all right here on the Scrambled Sunrise. So tune in via 99 One FM if you’re in the greater downtown area or streaming worldwide via Falls.

Great time for Chile and October 15 to head down to Armory Park. We’ll have the firefighters annual chili cook off. It’s our 25th and we’re in the middle of our interview with Matthew Jones, who has recently put into the role of directing the charities for the Tucson Fire Department and is coordinating and spearheading this effort. I’m going to talk a bit about what to expect when you head to the Cook Off.

How many booths are you expecting this year?

Right now I believe I have 16.

Wow, that is a lot of chili. That is a lot of chili. And then some churros on top of that. But obviously it’s a lot of fun. It’s in the fall day. It’s a great day for chili. Tell me, though, that the ultimate outcome of this is not just to serve chili. You’re supporting some really good causes here in Tucson. Can you talk a little bit more about the charities?

So this one, it goes traditionally to funding our holiday season. So that’s our adopt a family program where we’re able to provide resources and gifts to families that wouldn’t normally be able to experience that during our holiday season. And it also goes towards our food boxes, which goes to feed thousands amongst that same time period. So it very much in the next couple of months will come to fruition. What we’re able to raise in this.

Single event with the food boxes, where are those distributed, who benefits?

That will be another kind of smaller event that’s more done in house. And we send out little things, but we get a giant group of people together traditionally at our union hall, and they assemble these boxes and we put them in the truck and we send them out.

Wow. And the adoptive family I was on your website and just really touching people that have been may not have had much of a holiday season that gets the benefits of all the work that you’re doing for this.

Exactly. And that comes from the community. I mean, we just put this event together, but it’s coming from the people that are coming in and taking part in this.

It’s something that, again, I’m excited that it’s downtown, but quite honestly, I’m just excited that it’s happening again. I’ve had chile at several places in Tucson that have been made by firefighters now, and it’s always very good. A couple of quick questions here on costs. There’s no cost to get in. You’re going to have music and all kinds of sound like different festivities, dancing and different performances if you want. Chile, how does that work? Do you pay like a flat fee or you mentioned tickets.

Yeah. So you’ll go and buy tickets and you’ll go up and buy however many you want from a booth, and then you’ll take those to whatever chili booth you want and say, here’s my ticket, and they’ll hand you a cup of chili.


Are there other ways to support, like, where you have merchandise available? I mean, if someone doesn’t like chili.

For some reason, right, there will be, I believe, a Tshirt vendor they’re selling. But as far as just actual merchandise and such, we don’t really do too much of that, especially this year. Still kind of getting back into it. There’s a couple of vendors that unfortunately, with covet, kind of weren’t able to catch up to this. And so it’s as exciting as it is as a comeback year, it is also still a more or less recovery year for a couple of these things where it’s still getting back on track and such. So, unfortunately, in the realm of nonchilly merchandise, we don’t really have too much of that.

I think the chili will satisfy most of us. And for those that can attend that really want to support these efforts, are there other ways to just donate? Do you have, like, an online donation platform or how can people just support you if they can’t make it to the event on the 15th?

Well, if they can’t make it to this event on the 15th, except we’re going to have the food box assembly that they can take part in. As far as an actual donation, we don’t really do too much of that on our site. We’re more wanting to get these through the events to get people out and do these things and raise money through these directions.

Okay, well, when you do the food box preparation, do you have a date for that or is that something.

I don’t have a date for it right now. It all gets set up once I know how much we have to work with after this event. And something will go out. There will be very similar to how this was advertised. The social media aspect will be there, and we’ll try and get the word out there in any way that I can.

Well, you can definitely find out more through the social media, the Tucson Firefighters Charities, then the Tucson Firefighters Association page. A lot of information, not just about this, but you have events throughout the year. I was kind of surprised. I thought it was just you focused the entire year in Chile. But no, you do some other things. And I read some interesting stats from an article that was done a couple of years ago. So it’s probably, I’m sure obviously it’s preco because you haven’t done one since. But at your high point, you were serving almost 800 gallons of chili, which is somewhere like 24, 25,000 servings of chili. That’s in one year. So your group has put together.


The run on chili beans and sauce, I’m pretty sure.

And that’s what we’re trying to get back to. We’re trying to get back to where everybody’s running out of chili. So just one or two.

Well, Matt, I appreciate your time and putting this together. I know this is not your full time job, but it certainly sounds like a passion of yours that you’re able to do this and really support tremendous people within our community, and you do it in such a fun way. I’ve never heard anyone go to the chili cook off and say, boy, that was just not a good time.

Well, fingers crossed this isn’t the first.

Year that happens then I’m sure it won’t. As we wrap up here, are there any kind of last thoughts, anything that we didn’t cover? Any specific music acts or anything that you’re excited about?

No, I mean, it’s all there.

It starts at 10:00 a.m. It’s at Armory Park. It’s downtown. It will run until potentially 10:00 P.m., maybe a little earlier, depending on a few availability of Chile. But definitely get down there before the late night so you can get in and have a chance to talk and meet with the different firefighting individuals out there putting this together. And are there any competitions that the public can support as far as judging or is it all done through the judges panel?

It’s pretty much up to the judges, but they’ll listen to the public as well. They take in their input.

Well, I would think the public opinion will come from who raises the most tickets from the chili sales, because that will determine how many people went back there. Well, madam, I really appreciate your time. We’ll get this posted on our Facebook and get that shared out as well. And maybe as we get closer to the holidays, when you’re doing the box prep, don’t hesitate to reach out and we can spread that information as well. Really absolutely love what you do in our community and I thank you, matt Jones, thank you so much.

Thank you very much.


Take care.

Matthew Jones of the Tucson Firefighters Charities. He’s the director as well as being a firefighter in our community. Talk about the chili cookoff happening at Army Park on October 15, 25th annual. This is pretty close to my house, so I get there early and I might stay late. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar in downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on downtown

You’re listening to Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona, 99.1 FM, downtown radio. I’m Brother Mark, host of a show called Radio Club Crawl that airs every Tuesday at 03:00 P.m.. We try to focus on most of the bands that are coming through Tucson and we give you a tasty taste of their music. If you want to check out what’s happening around Tucson, check out Radio Club Crawl, Tuesdays, 03:00 P.m., right here on Ktdt. Tucson, Arizona, 99. One FM downtown radio.

Thank you very much.

Enjoy your evening.

Bye bye.

Radio Club Carl, one of my favorite shows on downtown Radio, which I don’t know if that’s saying a whole lot because I have like 13 favorite shows depending on what day and time it is. Brother Mark does a great job. If you’re ever wanting to take a look at live music in Tucson, I’m not sure if you want to, what club to go to or what band to listen to. Tune into Radio Club crawl. He plays them all out for you, get a good sense of what’s a good fit for your musical taste and then he tells you where to find him. A lot of time and effort put into that show as well as all of our other shows that you can [email protected] with our Lord volunteer DJs putting out some fabulous curated music that you’re just not going to hear anywhere else. Head over to for our full schedule and on Sundays, one of the seven best days of the week for sure. We have Little Leaf radio with Mr. Nature starting us off every Sunday at seven in the DJ Bank, the musical bum art of easing that leads

right into our show. And then we’re followed at the bottom of the hour by Ted Prazelski’s words and work as he interviews writers and members of the labor movement. Top of the hour is Tai logo with heavy mental. His story is amazing, his show is great in the back into the music with V Riv and Speakerbox X. All kinds of great music throughout the day. I want to thank Mr. Matthew Jones from the Tucson Firefighters charities as well as a Tucson firefighter himself for sharing with us about the Chili Cook off coming up on October. It’s the taking a two year break. And this I think it’s going to be really good one personally because you’ve had a couple of years for some of these runners up to be thinking about that loss and probably trying to figure out ways to get back on top with their booth design in Chile style. That’s downtown, that’s on the 15th. And as a reminder, also this upcoming weekend is Film Fest Tucson, which is happening a lot across the street at the Scottish Wright Temple.

And I think there’s something Saturday as well with the

Chownows Museum. So all that stuff happening right in Army Park if you head downtown. Next week on our show, we’ve got Glenn Grabsky. He is the general manager of the Tucson Convention Center. We’ve done a lot of shows about the convention center and things happening there, but I really talked about the facility itself and Glenn has a very interesting story that you’re not going to limits. He’s mixed and mingled with some pretty creative people throughout the years as he traveled on the road and ended up here in Tucson coming back to his roots as he was graduate of the University of Arizona. So we’ll chat with him next week and that gets us into the middle of the month, which happens to be our fifth anniversary. Can you believe that we launched our show October 17 of 2017? Yeah, that’s right, five years. So we’ve been doing this now for five years. We don’t quite have all the episodes because we did take six or seven months off in 2020. However, we do have over 200 shows. In fact, today’s

episode was 221. Our footprint is from the University of Arizona to a mountain, pretty much the streetcar route. We talk about life along the streetcar, try to keep it to about a mile within that area there. So that all that rich history and current development happening at 220 some episodes. And honestly, we just keep coming across more and more stories that need to be shared and many of those stories come from you. So please let us know if there are hidden gems that we should be sharing with everyone because that’s what this show is about. It was designed to be a community conversation and it also makes it easier on me when I don’t have to track down guests and they just come to me. Best way to do that is to tag us on social media, Facebook, ideally, definitely check out our Instagram page and some of the beautiful photos that have been put up there. And if you’re old fashioned like me, you can email us, [email protected] And at that same URL you can check out our past

episodes if you want to hear any of these old 200 and some episodes. Unfortunately, the very first episode, I didn’t know I had to record it myself. So we don’t actually don’t have a recording of the show. But all you’re missing is my talking, which is fine because I have the interviews. Our very first interview was with Roger Feifer at Mission Garden, birthplace of the region of Tucson, the base of a mountain. And then our second story was with Liz Polcock then not in her current role, but she was a key force behind the Ten West Impact Festival, which was talking about the future. So that was our very first show in 2017, the history and future of Tucson. And I think between episode one and episode 221, we’ve just kind of filled in the gaps of that 4000 some year history spread. Anyway, we’ll talk more next week about that. Maybe we’ll see you out at the Chili Cookoff or Film Fest, Tucson. And we’re going to leave you something, a little music today, very appropriate for our topic. This

is a band called Real Group and it’s a song I found from 2001. And it’s a song, but really I think it’s more of a recipe, their recipe for chili concarnate. My name is Tom Heath. I hope you have a great weekend. Tune in next Sunday for more life along the streetcar.