07/19/14 5:58pm
07/19/2014 5:58 PM
Members of Riverhead's Ironmen squad pull up in the Class B motorized competition on Saturday. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Members of Riverhead’s Ironmen squad pull up in the Class B motorized competition on Saturday. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Fighting a fire, naturally, is a race against the fire: get it out as fast as possible by minimizing injuries in the process.

Firematics — or fire drills — is a race against the clock. No fire involved here, though the skills required in each drill are still ones that could someday come in useful on the scene of a fire.

And the teams take it about as seriously as a real fire.

“Being in the department itself is like a part-time job. And then being on the drill team is like another part-time job,” said co-captain Ryan McArdle on Saturday, as the Riverhead Fire Department’s drill team — The Ironmen — hosted its 28th annual tournament.

Nineteen different drill teams from across Suffolk  County participated in Saturday’s competition, which took place at the department’s training grounds next to the Route 58 armory.

Mr. McArdle said the team meets two days a week to practice, each one about three to four hours long. And with eight different events the squad participates in during the summer months, that doesn’t include getting ready for the competitions on Friday nights and cleaning up after the events on Sundays.

The contests consist of eight different events — five of them involving vehicles, and three others “old fashioned.”

Firematics is largely unique to New York State, though for those involved in the sport, it’s not unique at all. The teams have devout followings, with live video and audio covering more than one drill on any given summer weekend for those unable to make the events.

Winners and losers are often decided by just a split second — though for those in the middle of a competition, that difference can feel like an eternity.

“These can come down to tenths of a second,” said Mr. McArdle. “But when you’re out there, it feels like 30 seconds.”

The Ironmen finished eighth in the 19-team competition, grabbing five points — two points for finishing fourth in the motor pump competition, and three points for third in the B hose competition. 

Members of the Ironmen's Motor Pump team before the race Saturday. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Members of the Ironmen’s Motor Pump team before the race Saturday. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

 

 

Click the following pages from more photos from Saturday’s event:

07/18/14 3:00pm
07/18/2014 3:00 PM
Riverhead Ironmen compete in their drill competition in July 2013. This year's competition will be held Saturday afternoon.  (Credit: Paul Squire)

Riverhead Ironmen compete in their drill competition in July 2013. This year’s competition will be held Saturday afternoon. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The Riverhead Fire Department will host its 28th annual motorized drill tournament on Saturday.

The Ironmen — the volunteers’ racing team — is sponsoring the tournament, which will include fire departments from across Suffolk County competing in events like the bucket carry, the motorized pump and the three-man ladder. Central Islip Fire Department will attempt to defend its title after it won last year’s competition.

The drill will begin at noon at the fire department’s training ground near the Armory on Route 58.

Tickets cost $6 for adults and $3 for children and can be purchased at the tournament. Food and refreshments will be available.

See below for a video from last year’s competition:

psquire@timesreview.com