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Firefighter games ignite crowds in North Augusta

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Firefighter games ignite crowds in North Augusta

NORTH AUGUSTA - Normally, when firefighters are racing up a ladder or hooking up a fire hose, it means there's an emergency, but last weekend, it just meant they were competing in the 105th annual Firefighter Games.

The competition is hosted by the Eastern Ontario Firefighters Association and this year was held in North Augusta, where ten different fire departments and about 300 individual firefighters took part in a series of challenges that tested their skills and kept a large crowd cheering on their local or favourite firefighters.

"The camaraderie between firefighters and fire departments is what it's all about," said Rob Bowman, fire chief for the Township of Augusta.

The township has hosted the games on two previous occasions, but both times in Maitland, most recently in 2007, but this is the first time the competition has taken place in North Augusta. The area around the North Augusta fire station was packed with spectators and firefighters, who enjoyed a barbecue at the end of the event, which also traditionally finishes off with a parade of participating departments.

"It's great for the township and it's great for the fire department," said George Elliott, deputy mayor of Augusta Township.

There were several different events in which all the fire departments competed, among them a bucket brigade race and a test of accuracy, with participants having to shoot down targets with a fire hose. The events also tested the contestants' endurance and fitness, as they heaved hoses about the street and hooked them up to various fittings, all as the timer continued to run and the crowd cheered them on.

"It's a fun day," said John Henry, captain of the team representing the Prescott Fire Department. "It shows the teamwork between the departments and the brotherhood and sisterhood that exists."

The amount of organization that goes into the games is considerable, and Bowman gives full credit to the dozens of firefighters and community volunteers, not to mention local business owners and a local Scouts troop, who helped make the event such a great one.

At the end of the competition, it was the team from the Iroquois Fire Department that emerged victorious, followed by the host team from Augusta Township. Close behind in third and fourth, respectively, were the teams from the Edwardsburgh-Cardinal and Prescott fire companies.

"It's a good friendly competition," said Brian Purcell, a fire captain with the Edwardsburgh-Cardinal Fire Department. "It's a fun day. It's more fun if you win, but it's all fun."

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