Apr 05, 2024

Norfolk firefighters compete in Vittoria

Norfolk’s firefighting community is like a tight-knit family.

“Very tight,” said St. Williams firefighter Joey Csoff. “You can go to any hall and talk to anyone. They’ll invite you in, you’ll invite them in.”

On Saturday, some of the firefighting family came together in Vittoria for the county’s annual ‘pump competition.’

“I’m here for a good time,” said Courtland firefighter Greg Vogrincic (Station 6), who has been competing since 2005, but doesn’t pay much attention to the times and results. “The kids are here, the family’s here, that is what it’s all about. It’s all for fun.”

“That’s all it’s about, a little friendly competition,” agreed Csoff, who most enjoys the camaraderie. “We’ve won, we’ve come in last, everybody has a good day, everybody has a bad day, but it’s always fun.”

“It’s a day to get out, bring your families, and play with the water,” said Greg Townsend, District Chief in Vittoria. “They take a lot of guff from some guys, but that’s OK. Sometimes they get a little excited, they’ll take some ribbing, but it’s all in good fun here.”

Usually six to eight of Norfolk’s 11 stations participate. On Saturday there were four – Vittoria, Port Dover, St. Williams and Courtland.

“I can remember going to these competitions before I was on the fire department and I’ve been on the department 34 years,” said Townsend. “It’s been going a long time, and it’s not just for the firefighters, afterwards the spouses compete.”

The morning starts at 10 a.m. with a timed ‘shoot the targets’ event, spraying stationary targets on the ground.

“They start at the truck – three on the back, two in the cab,” said Townsend. “They jump out, fire up the truck, draft, pump water out and knock down the main target. Then come back, split the line, add a two-inch-and-a-half, then shoot down two smaller targets.”

It takes teamwork, Townsend said, making sure you have all your ducks in a row.

“Everybody’s got to work together, moving the hose forward and backward,” said Csoff. “This one’s big teamwork… a lot of teamwork. You rely on everyone else and they rely on you.”

In the bucket brigade, three firefighters run to a ladder. One climbs to the top of a scaffold platform, one stays on the middle rungs, one stands at the base. Three firefighters race around a pool of water, filling buckets to hand off at the ladder where they are lifted to the top and emptied into a 45-gallon barrel. When the barrel is full, the race ends.

After a short break they moved to the ‘pull the fire truck’ event.

“They have to pull it 60 feet,” said Townsend, nodding toward Vittoria’s 1929 Bickle, one of two antique fire trucks in the parking lot, the other coming from St. Williams. “It weighs approximately 9,960 pounds.”

The final event was the water barrel competition – a variation on tug of war where five-person crews on either side try to spray a barrel raised up on a cable toward the other team.

“They’ll battle that back and forth,” said Townsend.

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