The Tournament Teams......
Celebrates 100 Years of Competition
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Since the very beginning of the volunteer fire service, competition
has been the driving force, or so it seems. Who was the first to arrive
on the fire, the first to put water on the fire, the company that
extinguished the fire or made the dramatic rescue, who has the best
apparatus and on and on.
Contests or tournaments, between rival companies began sometime in the
early 1800's. In those early days, the contests were simple in scope,
for example, who could pump a stream of water the furthest using their
hand pumpers. Over the years, the contests became more sophisticated,
especially here on Long Island.
At the turn of the century, soon after the formation of Hook & Ladder
Company No: 1, a group of men in the company began to formulate plans to
organize a drill team. The group utilized the hose wagon as the first
drill team apparatus.
The first tournament that the team competed in was the Hempstead
drill in 1903. Mr. William Post offered the use of his team of horses to
draw the truck tot he tournament, and, for his efforts was presented
with a whip by the Company. In September, the team competed in the Labor
day drill, held in Sea Cliff. This drill was sponsored by the Nassau
County Firemen's Association, which now organized the tournaments, which
were now held more regularly and on a yearly basis.
The first time a prize, a kerosene lamp, was won by the drill team,
comprised of members of the Hose Company No. 1, which took over the
reigns of the drill team, was the Hempstead tournament held in 1912. the
cherished prize, is today, safely displayed in the department's trophy
case. Prizes offered during these early days of tournaments, consisted
of cups, lamps, furniture, rugs, nozzles, trumpets, and in some cases,
The events, in those early days of tournaments, that the teams
competed in consisted of foot races, running hose, dry hose running,
ladder and efficiency. In 1916, a new twist was added to the
competitions, with the addition of motorized apparatus. now, instead of
pulling a hose wagon down the competition track, the drill team members
would ride the back and sides of the apparatus, as it raced down the
Each year the team improved, and in 1917, at the tournament in
Woodmere, the team set a new record in Motor Hook & Ladder (using the
Kelly-Springfield Truck), with a time of 37 seconds. Over the next
twenty-five-years, the Hose Company No. 1 drill team won many, many
trophies. The team also broke many existing records, and, set numerous
new record times.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1941, the
competitions were put on hold, due in large part, that many of the young
men were now defending fighting to free the world of the axis powers. It
would not be until the late 1940's , with the war's conclusion, that the
tournaments would once again thrive throughout Long Island.
The "Turtles" Drill Team
At the conclusion of World War II, life in America, and
activities in the volunteer fire service, began to slowly return to
Little by little, the activities that the department's and companies
in Nassau County so fervently pursued before the outbreak of war,
were once more beginning to flourish. One of the most popular actives
was the racing or tournament team.
As has been previously noted, the racing teams of Westbury,
especially the men from Hose 1, were a force to be reckoned with on the
In 1948, the members of the drill team, which consisted of members
from each of the three companies, decided it was time to identify the
team with a name. No doubt, after much discussion and debate over what
name to choose, the team finally decided on the name "Turtles."
Throughout Long Island, teams began to adopt team names-Teddy's Boys of
Oyster Bay Co. #1, the Hicksville Hicks, Carle Place Frogs,
Hempstead Flukes, Glenwood Greenhorns. here wasn't a
company or department whose team did not have a "team name."
As in many other departments, being a member of the drill team, was
passed on from generation to generation. The Bennett's, Buck's,
Riccardo's and Readon's were all fierce competitors, and through this
sense of competition, made the team achieve of standard of winning.
Even though the methods used in competiting have changed dramatically
since the early days of tournaments, the passion for that championship
cup have not diminished.
James Simone, a captain of the racing team provided the information
for the history of the Turtles-Drill Team, stated "this is a perfect
opportunity for every true Drill Team member to take a moment and relive
the most memories as members of the Westbury Fire Department Drill Team
Ex-Captains- Drill Team
|Robert Krammer, Sr.
Place, Total Points, NYS Drill
1972-Set State Record in Motor
Hose Class B 7.98 seconds.
1976-Nassau County Champs
1976-Labor Day Champs (Hicksville Drill)
1978-Nassau County Champs
1978-Motor Pump Champs (most points in Motor Pump 1 season)
1979-Motor Pump Champs
1967-1979: For 12 straight years, 9th Battalion
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