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Punta Gorda--State Fire Competition Brings out the BEST!

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  • Punta Gorda--State Fire Competition Brings out the BEST!

    Firefighters Competition draws crowd

    Arcadia and Punta Gorda departments miss their marks


    PUNTA GORDA -- While the fishermen were fishing and the dogs were leaping, firefighters from across the state were battling for bragging rights Saturday.

    Firefighters from nine departments, including Punta Gorda's and Arcadia's, wowed the ESPN Redfish Cup Tailgate Party crowd gathered outside the Charlotte County Memorial Auditorium by competing in six events for the Florida State Fireman's Competition.

    Though neither Punta Gorda Fire nor Arcadia Fire finished in first place, attendees were impressed as firefighters quickly rolled up hoses, knocked down targets by spraying water from hoses, tackled busted hoses and filled up a barrel as a bucket brigade.

    The events tested teamwork, endurance, agility and specific fire-fighting skills.

    Though it was a competition, firefighters kept it friendly and continually cheered for each other.

    Arcadia firefighters entered the contest confident Saturday morning after placing third in the state competition in June.

    "Arcadia's going to win today," predicted Arcadia Fire Capt. C.W. Blosser.

    But Punta Gorda's Fire Capt. Ray Briggs had a strategy for winning in front of the hometown crowd that drew chuckles from Blosser.

    "All we have to do is concentrate on beating Arcadia," Briggs said.

    Both, however, suffered setbacks during the first challenge of the day.

    As the teams rolled up fire hoses and sprinted to place them through a wooden rack, Punta Gorda's team was penalized because one firefighter didn't make it across the line, and Arcadia struggled to get the hose through the rack.

    That put Punta Gorda in fifth place and Arcadia in eighth.

    Arcadia turned around in the next event and finished first in the Running Hose event, where firefighters had to connect three hoses and spray down targets as water raged through the tubes.

    Punta Gorda, again, had some problems.

    One of their connections broke free. Instead of giving up, however, they raced to fix the line and finished the event in eighth place.

    But it was the Seminole Fire Department that offered some slapstick comedy when a firefighter tripped and the hose went wild, threatening to spray everyone in sight. As they tackled the crazy hose, one spectator said: "Where are they from so we don't move there?"

    As the sun grew hotter, the firefighting events got wetter while kids enjoyed dancing in the showers caused by the Busted Hose event.

    And it was that challenge that brought Punta Gorda its first victory.

    The hometown firefighters detached the busted hose, replaced it with a clean one and shot down two targets with the quickest time.

    Overall, the Bayshore Fire Department finished first, Plantation came in second and Highlands Lakes took third.

    Despite some setbacks, Briggs' men must have been concentrating hard on beating Arcadia -- because they did.

    Punta Gorda came in fourth, narrowly defeating Arcadia, which took fifth.

    Trophies aside, the day was enjoyable for firefighters and spectators.

    "I love this," said Port Charlotte resident Sally Mettler. "This was fun."

    You can e-mail Christy Arnold at [email protected]


    By CHRISTY ARNOLD

    Staff Writer
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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