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Competition honors fallen Northport firefighter

Firefighters will display their lifesaving skills Saturday at the Chuck Varese Vehicle Extrication tournament.

The tournament, named after a 25-year-old Northport firefighter killed in an auto accident in 2008, will feature teams of firefighters from 18 departments competing to break apart cars using heavy equipment.

Robert “Beefy” Varese, former chief of the Northport Fire Department and father of Chuck Varese, said the tournament is a way for rescuers to hone lifesaving skills and learn from other departments.

“It’s definitely a training exercise,” Varese said. “You need to know what you’re doing with this. The more you do it, the better off you are.”

The cars used in the tournament are borrowed from Gershow Recycling in Medford. The money raised from donations and fees the fire departments pays to compete will be donated to charity, including a fund for burned firefighters in Suffolk County, Varese said.

Varese said his son served in the hook and ladder company and enjoyed competing in similar tournaments on Long Island.

“He was a big kid, but always made everybody laugh,” Varese said. “He was a gentle giant.”

The tournament will be held at 9 a.m. at the Northport Fire Department Training Grounds at Steers Pit. Admission is free.

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