Thousands of firemen are in Clayton this weekend, but they aren't fighting any fires. Our Amanda Kelley takes us to the annual Fireman's Drill and Parade Championships, and shows us how it's helping the local community.
CLAYTON, N.Y. -- It's a fast paced race to the top. Thousands of volunteer firefighters from all over New York are all gathered in Clayton this weekend. They're competing for a state title, and some bragging rights.
Elsmere Firefighter Ken Zigrosser said, "We practice twice a week starting in the spring, and then through the summer we're involved in about seven or eight competitions."
Clayton Town Supervisor Justin Taylor said, "It's very exciting for not only Clayton, but the whole region."
Clayton's proud to play host for the Fireman's Drill Championships, bringing an extra boost to area businesses this weekend.
Taylor said, "It's not just a tournament for the firemen, their whole family's here. The hotels, motels, restaurants have been packed for the last several days, so it's a great event for the whole region."
Many people don't know about the fireman's competition, but they've been going on for hundreds of years. Some even say they began in the North Country.
Author and Photographer Michael Heller said, "It started out on such a local level, between neighboring Fire Departments, but as far as the research goes, this is where some of the first documented contests took place."
The games were originally very informal, but helped volunteer firefighters to sharpen their skills. Years later, it's evolved into what you see now but the ideas remain the same.
Heller said, "It was basic skills that are inherent to firefighters. How fast can we put a ladder up against a building, how fast can we climb to the top, how fast can we hook a hose up to a hydrant and put water on a fire?"
With one chance to prove their abilities, tensions are high within every department, hoping they bring home this year's championship title.