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Firefighter competition in Bayville benefits charity

The Bayville Fire Company hosted its sixth annual charity drill competition on Sunday, July 30, 2017, at Centre Island Beach. Eleven teams of firefighters from across Long Island demonstrated their skills during the event which raised funds for local charities.  (Credit: Newsday / Christopher Cameron)

The Bayville Fire Company held its sixth annual charity drill Sunday, pitting 11 teams of firefighters from across Long Island against each other in what’s known as the “Battle By The Bay.”

Held at the Centre Island Beach Field in Bayville, the charity drill hosts competitive events related to firefighting duties, such as operating a fire hydrant and being able to quickly assemble and disassemble a fire hose.

“It’s all about the speed and efficiency of doing firematic services,“ said William Flower, a trustee of the Bayville Fire Company. “These drills are going to happen anyway, so we said ‘why not use it as an opportunity to raise funds for some local charitable groups?’”

The event has previously raised a total of $75,000 in donations of cash and canned food, Flower said. This year’s donations will go to St. Gertrude’s Church in Bayville, the Village Church of Bayville, and a scholarship program at Locust Valley High School, he said.

“We came out here to run a charity event for people in need,” said Billy Clark, a firefighter with the Albertson Fire Company.

“These go back at least a hundred years,” Clark said of the drill competitions, adding that they give firefighters a chance “to hone our skills, so that we can perform better on the fireground.”

In addition to the Albertson department, firefighters from Bellmore, Plainview, Freeport, Baldwin, Miller Place, Sea Cliff, Seaford, and Locust Valley competed in the drills. The Oak Neckers, the team representing the Bayville Fire Company, included its youngest addition: Locust Valley High School senior Julia Giannoutsos, who joined the company five months ago.

“It was definitely a big change, getting into the habit of coming down for calls . . . but it was nice, I like it. It definitely opened up more doors for me.” said Giannoutsos, 17. “We train once or twice a week . . . you got to have a mental state of what you need to do and how you need to do it.”

Participating in the charity drills gives the teams involved an opportunity to improve themselves in the company of firefighters from other departments, said Kevin Viteritti, chief of department at the Bayville Fire Company.

“It sharpens our skills for firefighting,” Viteritti said. “You meet different people, and it ends up being a nice social event as well.”

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