Firefighters from across Nassau County put their skills to the test during the Battle by the Bay on Sunday. Hosted by the Bayville Fire Company, 11 teams competed in numerous drills at Centre Island Beach for some friendly competition and bragging rights.
“Even though this is a fun event, it’s all focused around firematics,” said William Flower, a trustee of the Bayville Fire Company. “It has to do with ladder climbing, working with hoses and nozzles, and handling the strong flow of water.”
Families of the firefighters filled the stands and stood along the fences rooting for their teams. Flower said spectators were able to see firsthand the “beauty” of Bayville. “With our competition being right by the water and the beach, it’s really just a phenomenal and terrific setting for teams to come to,” he said.
As for the competition, speed was the biggest component. For each drill, firefighters had to complete each task in a certain amount of time. Otherwise, they would finish overtime.
“Speed is always important for us, especially in an emergency situation,” Flower said. “This competition is a great opportunity for local fire companies and fire departments from across Long Island to practice and hone the skills we need as firefighters.”
Legislator Donald MacKenzie, of Oyster Bay, experienced firsthand the skills required in an emergency situation when his neighbor’s home was on fire the night before the competition. MacKenzie used his ladder to help a man trapped in the building, and several fire departments quickly responded to the scene.
“All of the training these guys do, all the competitions they compete in, in the end, it’s all to save people,” MacKenzie said. “They were all volunteers, they got up at 5 o’clock in the morning, and they did an amazing job.”
Along with competing and training for real-life situations, proceeds from the Battle by the Bay are donated to local charities that include St. Gertrude’s Church and the Village Church of Bayville. Donations are also used to fund Locust Valley High School’s scholarship program. The Bayville Fire Company has raised more than $75,000 through this annual event, which began in 2012.
“This event exposes to people everything that firefighters do,” MacKenzie added. “I hope that it opens people’s eyes and they recognize how hard these guys are working for us.”
Bayville Fire Chief Kevin Vitteriti explained that keeping residents safe from fires isn’t the only goal for fire departments. They also work to make their communities better. “We all volunteer to ensure that Bayville and our surrounding area are great places to live and raise a family,” Vitteriti explained.
The Bayville Fire Company participates in seven to 10 tournaments each year during the season, which runs from May to August.
The company placed fourth in Sunday’s competition, with 13 points ,while Locust Valley finished eighth, with two points.
“What I love about this is . . . there’s no politics involved,” Flower said. “This is all about one thing, which is having some fun while supporting great communities and making sure that all the firefighters are working together. That’s something that everybody can get behind.”