How do you prepare for a big football party?

Lots of food, cold drinks, a big-screen TV and a 38.5-foot, 44,000-pound rescue vehicle.

For the volunteers at the Dover Township Fire Department, that's exactly how they watch a major sporting event.

On Sunday evening, a dozen volunteers and some of their spouses huddled in the fire department's kitchen and lounge area to watch the Ravens take on the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

The ostensible purpose of the event was to watch a football game with fellow firefighters and family, but the ultimate goal was to ensure that the Dover Township community was being served in case of emergency.

"It's really an informal party that we do all the time with our volunteers to make sure we have coverage during that shift to respond to a call," said Deputy Chief Brian Widmayer.

Dover Township has a full-time, live-in force that sleep, eat and work out of the station year round. "For the guys that live here, they never really go home unless they are injured," added Widmayer.

A Green Bay Packers fan, Widmayer rooted against the Ravens just for the fun of it. For the others in attendance, their allegiances were split down the middle.

Firefighters wearing Ravens' Ray Rice and Torrey Smith jerseys took full advantage of the recliners front and center of the television.

"It's a great atmosphere here," said Chad Canup, a volunteer firefighter who works full-time as a Baltimore County police officer. "As a police officer, you're alone in your cruiser all day long. Here we all get along and it's just hanging out with your friends. It's the main reason why I decided to come here."

Formerly from Dundalk, Md., Canup moved to the York area several years ago.

"There's a lot of former Marylanders now living up here, including guys that I work with in the police department, so finding other Ravens fans isn't hard," he said.

As to the pending retirement of Ravens' star linebacker Ray Lewis, Canup said: "It's sad to see him go, but it's time. Now I'm just wondering who will step up to fill his role."

A big game or special event doesn't stop a fire or emergency from occurring, and when it does, these volunteers have their own roles to play.

The Dover Township area gets on average of nearly 700 calls a year. Having proper staffing on hand provides security that the community can trust day after day no matter what teams are playing, officials said.

"Last week when the Ravens played the Broncos we had a chimney fire," said Widmayer.

As the game got under way everyone crowded in front of the TV -- Ravens' fans in the front and everyone cheering against them sat in the back.

As important as a championship game is to a team and to a fan base, the real things that are important were at the forefront of everyone inside the firehouse.

By the end of the game, the Ravens had beaten the Patriots and secured their second trip to the Super Bowl. More importantly, the firefighters got to enjoy the game without an emergency call.

For them, that represented a win.

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