The Freeport Dead End Kids drill team came out on top at the New York State Old-Fashioned Championship firefighting tournament in Baldwin last Friday. It was the second straight year that Freeport won the competition, but its ninth championship title.
Twelve drill teams from across Long Island gathered at Fireman’s Field to demonstrate their teamwork, coordination and athleticism in the contest. An old-fashioned drill differs from a motorized drill in that contestants are put to the test in ladder and hose drills for which they must run and carry their equipment, rather than drive it in motorized vehicles.
“I love the [old-fashioned] tournament, and Baldwin did a great job” hosting it, said Donald Mauersberger, of Freeport Truck Company No. 1, who for more than 50 years has coached the Freeport Dead End Kids drill team.
The Freeport Fire Department has participated in drill competitions since 1870, with awards dating back to 1880. Freeport has won the state tournament more times than any other drill team. The name Dead End Kids, according to Mauserberger, was decided on in the 1940s and was inspired by the two-part film series “East Side Kids” and “Dead End Kids.”
Mauersberger praised his crew, which had some new faces this year, for its performance. “I think they’re very good,” he said. “Not quite as good as our old ones, but they’re new, and they’re going to get better.”
Teams are members of the Firefighting Drill Association of New York, which comprises volunteer firefighters from across the state who take part in firematic competitions, pitting their speed, strength and cooperation skills against other department members. Participation in the competition hones firefighters’ skills, fosters teamwork and builds character, as well as discipline and fitness.
The Freeport Volunteer Fire Department has about 340 members, of whom 17 are members of the old-fashioned drill team. According to Department Chief Matthew Colgan, before Freeport’s big wins at the state tournament over the past to years, it last participated in and won the old-fashioned drill in 1999. For 16 years, it had participated in the motorized drills instead.
“Our department has always had a reputation of being successful at what we do, whether responding to a fire and emergencies, participating in parades or participating in a tournament,” Colgan said. “I think people are well aware of our reputation.”
At the end of the competition, in which the team names are almost as entertaining as the events themselves, the Dead End Kids finished ahead of the Miller Place Extinguishers, the Bellmore Ball Breakers and the Seaford Inmates. The host Tomcats were fifth in the standings.
“We’re very proud of our hard-working volunteer firefighters who sacrifice countless hours each week away from their families to protect the residents and property of our beloved village,” Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said.