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NY’s fastest firefighters compete in Amherst

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Aug 21, 2021

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York’s fastest firefighters competed on Saturday right here in Western New York. The Firematic Drill Championships happen annually, and every four years it takes place at the Main Transit Fire Department in Amherst.

Jeffrey Karl is a Main Transit volunteer firefighter and helps the team on the sidelines.

“It’s unusual, it’s unique, and it’s a little bit of a hidden gem,” Karl said. “These races have evolved overtime. They used to be how fast can we get water to a fire using buckets.”

32 teams competed in 8 racing events where they put their firefighting skills to the test. For one relay, the team has to race down the track and get a firefighter to the top of the ladder in the shortest amount of time.

Fans tell me the fastest teams do the relay in about eight seconds.

“You’re blowing off steam, and you’re having fun, but you’re also building friendships with your teammates and the competitors,” Karl said.

Jim Lawida is the Main Transit Slo-Pokes Coach, and he said the championship is used as an exhibition to promote volunteer firefighting.

“New York State is the state with the most volunteer firefighters, and we’re always looking for more,” Lawida said.

The drills used in the competition are also used as training.

“The guys are working together for comradery, efficiency, they are working together today,” Lawida said. “These guys are well trained to work with one another.”