Firefighter games and Fireman's Ball slated for this weekend

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Local fire and rescue personnel are preparing for a battle in a few days.

But this battle doesn't have anything to do with an emergency rescue, such as a car crash or a large structure fire.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, local firefighters and EMTs will compete in an all-day event meant to give rescuers a day of fun that includes everything from barrel racing to tug of war in this year's Fireman's Games and Ball.

"It's a time for us to come together," said Becky Culp, chief of the Los Chavez Fire Department. "We don't always interact with all of the (fire) districts at the same time."

Other games include the bucket brigade and the ladder race that separates individuals into teams to work together to accomplish a goal.

Culp said the event, in its third year, is a reminder that everyone involved in the local fire service is a family.

The games will start at 9 a.m. at Daniel Fernandez Park in Los Lunas, and the ball from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Belen Elks Lodge.

Awards for EMT, Firefighter and Officer of the Year will be announced at the ball. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend and observe the games on Saturday at the park.

A few years ago, a group of emergency rescue personnel decided to revive the event after several years of not holding an event in Valencia County.

In years past, Valencia County had a public safety ball that included all local law enforcement and had an event called the Valencia County Fire Olympics, which was held in the 1990s.

The Fireman's Ball provides a social atmosphere and that gives families a chance to bond with each other. In some instances, families get to meet each other for the first time.

That night, firefighters and rescue personnel change into dressy attire and have an opportunity to share stories and a few laughs as they are honored with awards. About a dozen fire and rescue stations are represented at the event.

Valencia County Interim Fire Chief Steven Gonzales said the events help build camaraderie between Valencia County fire officials.

"Families get to see what their (loved-ones) do," Gonzales said. "They see the trainings and come together to have fun. It's definitely an experience."

Culp agrees.

"We are a family," Culp said. "We have our issues like anyone else, But we are still a family."

Culp said the event was originally held in September to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11 ― the group's own tribute to the tragic day.

She said it's important for emergency responders to remember the people who died and to thank current emergency personnel for their service.

Officials say the games is a good way to thank firefighters for their service. Rescue personnel save property and lives on a constant basis and the event lets the responders have a day for themselves.

Gonzales said fun should be had by all.

"It builds relationships and stronger bonds," Gonzales said. "It's a family affair."


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.