Firefighters test skills in 33rd competition
On Saturday, firefighters from departments around the county participated in the 33rd Annual Union County Firefighters Competition.
The day began around 7:30 a.m. with a string of fire apparatuses traveling from Food Lion at Hilltop in Monroe down U.S. Highway 74 and into the Monroe Crossing Mall parking lot.
Sirens from the vehicles could be heard down the street as members of each department pulled into the mall parking lot and exited their vehicles to begin preparing for the day’s activities. In addition to activities for the firefighters, a section was also set up for children during the event.
“I think it’s very good for brotherhood and for its competition,” Luther Judy, treasurer of the Union County Fire and Rescue Association, said.
He referred to how the annual event provides an opportunity for firefighters from different departments to come together and socialize in addition to competing against each other.
The annual firefighters competition was hosted by the Union County Fire and Rescue Association and the City of Monroe Fire Department. It featured various skill-focused activities teams from different departments participated in as well as an individual competition.
In all, seven separate teams participated in this year’s competition, which were teams from Sandy Ridge, Bakers, Unionville, Beaver Lane, Wingate, Jackson, Hemby Bridge and Stallings fire departments. Hemby Bridge and Stallings combined their members into one team for the competition, Judy said.
Activities the teams competed in were an Iron Man Relay in which a team of firefighters worked to quickly dress before navigating five obstacles in a relay, a Denver Drill in which a team of firefighters navigated using a hose in a box with a firefighter trapped inside and worked to safely remove the firefighter, a Stop the Flow challenge in which a team of firefighters worked to build a system to catch water from a sprinkler head using tarps and afterwards stop the flow of water from the sprinkler head and a Blind Box challenge in which firefighter team members had to build an item pictured on top of a box using only their hands and without looking inside of the box.
The individual section of the competition involved various tasks in which firefighters had to first put on all of their gear, run to a designated line, remove their air pack and air bottle and then run to the finish line. The fastest 10 participants without penalties then moved on to the finals where they had to compete in six different obstacles, according to an e-mail from Captain Nick Steffler of the Monroe Fire Department who helped organize the event.
“It’s a good event to keep up training,” Johnathan Shelton, a firefighter with the Sandy Ridge Fire Department and captain of the department’s team in the firefighter competition, said.
The activities they participated in during the competition were similar to a lot of the work they do every day when out responding to fires, Shelton said.
Fellow firefighters from the departments participating as well as other departments from around the county, friends and family of firefighters and others could be found along the sidelines of the competition cheering on the different participants.
“It’s great, nice to see everyone come together,” Dan Hooker, a firefighter with the Wingate Fire Department, said in reference to those participating in the annual competition.
Members of Ebenezer Baptist Church handed out food throughout the competition. Members of the American Red Cross were also present at the event and handed out information about the organization, fire preparedness and the new Red Cross mobile apps. Members of Firefighters for the Cure were also present at the event and handed out information about the organization’s annual 5K and sold shirts and raffle tickets for the upcoming race.