February 8, 2010
Firemen compete in Winter Games
Weekend event at Greek Peak draws firefighters from across the state
VIRGIL — After racing down the slopes on a snow tube with her team, Maureen Monroe was plastered with snow and out of breath.
Monroe was one of hundreds of volunteer firefighters who gathered Saturday at Greek Peak Mountain Resort to participate in the 5th Annual Firefighter Winter Games.
Monroe, like everyone else around her, wore heavy firefighter gear that made her sink into the snow when she walked. To get warm, she had to walk back to one of the buildings on the Greek Peak resort, trudging through the snow, careful not to slip on ice.
But she loved the experience.
“This is my first year but I love it. Everything’s great and exciting,” said Monroe, a teacher’s aide at Parker Elementary School in Cortland.
Monroe joined the Cortlandville Fire Department a little over a year ago, because she liked helping people.
The games, which were previously held in Lake Placid, invite firefighters in New York state to meet members of different stations, have fun, but most importantly, strengthen a bond.
“Volunteer firefighters need to be encouraged by a sense of unity and camaraderie,” said Douglas Van Etten, committee chair for the 2010 games.
As an incentive, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York invites firefighters, most of whom are volunteers, to participate in the winter games. During this year’s event, which began Friday and concluded Sunday, teams from fire departments across the state participated in a tubing competition, hose relay race, and broomball competition. Career firefighters and all other factions of a fire department, like the youth sector, sometimes called Explorers, are invited to participate.
This year, the games had its largest attendance. There were 47 teams with five members each participating in the games.
Van Etten, who started volunteering at fire departments in the 1980s and is the principal at Homer High School, said he believes volunteer firefighters, should be rewarded for their service.
Firefighting is a mentally and physically draining occupation. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, in 2008, 118 firefighters in the nation died while on duty, 66 of whom were volunteer firefighters.
The firefighters, who are usually saving lives, got to enjoy life on Saturday, said David Quinn, chief administrative officer for FASNY.
“It’s great to network with other departments,” said Quinn, a volunteer firefighter from Rensselaer in Rensselaer County. Quinn also added that FASNY hosted summer games for some time, but added the winter games to strengthen bonds between departments.
Van Etten said the winter games allow people outside of the region to learn about Cortland and all it has to offer. He also predicts that the consumerism of the games’ participants will boost the local economy.
Support for the games comes from corporate sponsors and participant registration fees. Greek Peak was opened to the public during the games.
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