PITTSBURG — During the Battle of the Badges the Pittsburg and Fire Departments departments go against one another in a chili competition to support one of the biggest American Red Cross Chapter community blood drives of the year. 

The blood drive will be from 1 to 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Frisco Event Center. People can schedule an appointment by visiting redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. 

One donation of blood can potentially save up to three lives, according to the Red Cross website. Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the United States. Blood and platelets cannot be manufactured and must come from volunteer donors, the website said, and that’s why Deputy Chief Tim Tompkins and Fire Marshal Tom Vacca encourage people to donate their blood.

“There’s several reasons blood supply is always in demand,” Vacca said. “People involved in a trauma, surgeries, or might have a blood disorder or any type of cancer, the donations help replenish the stock if used.

“Honestly just a little bit of time out of their day to provide a life saving measure to somebody, can help a complete stranger and not even know it. There’s a lot of people who can't. That's why people who can, should make that donation.”

Tompkins agreed, and said he’s glad that people had made such donations in the past when his father had open heart surgery. 

“If someone had not taken the time that day [to donate], I shudder to think about the need,” Tompkins said. “What it boils down to what’s an hour of your time worth, when it comes to donating blood, that gift of life is immeasurable.”

“Not to mention, you can have some good chili,” he added. 

One of the captains of the fire department will make the fire department’s chili, which Vacca said he’s been hearing some talk about already. He said the best chili to him comes down to balance in the flavor, a rich sauce and tender beans — and of course a “little bit a love always needs go to into a batch of chili.” 

Tompkins said Tammy Frye, the police department’s building maintenance person, makes the department’s chili every year. 

“She’s our resident chili ninja,” Tompkins said. “She’s pretty serious about chili and rather secretive about her recipe.”

The police department is the current reigning champion for the battle of the badges.