GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis Fire Department held its Fourth Annual Mutual-Aid Picnic and Waterball Battle Saturday.
According to Gallipolis Fire Chief Keith Elliot, local fire departments typically only run into one another during “high-risk, high-stress situations involving saving lives and property.” The picnic and waterball battle were started in September 2012 in an attempt to bring local firefighters and their families together as a way to engage in communal fellowship, friendly competition and a chance to share good food.
The event started at noon and lasted until 4 p.m. Eight departments were invited, seven districts from Gallia County and the Point Pleasant department. Dwayne Beaver, Gallipolis fire fighter, estimated there to be somewhere around 200 individuals serving their communities.
The origins of waterball as a game are difficult to established, but it does seem that fire fighters agree there to be a national version of the games rules.
“You have to have all of your ‘turnout gear.’ Boots, pants, coats, helmets and gloves,”Beaver said about the game.
According to www.fire.cds.com, a waterball court is constructed with a set of “A” frame stilts roughly 110 feet apart with a tether line connecting them. The court is 30 feet wide. Three contestants on a team stand opposite of one another with fire hoses. One individual aims the hose, another supports the house behind the shooter and the last individual stands in the back to help manage the slack of the hose. Participants fire at a large ball hanging from the tether and try to push the ball into the opponent’s zone.
“There are three lines on the ground. The center one is the ball’s starting spot and the other two are neutral zones. Once you get a ball passed that it’s in the other team’s zone. The object of the game is to keep the ball for the most amount of time in the other guy’s zone. Whoever keeps it on their opponent’s side the longest after three minutes is the winner,” Beaver said.
Beaver stated the game was good practice for aiming during actual fires as the ball swings all about the line, prompting players to continually micromanage their aim.
Seven teams participated in this year’s waterball competition. Gallia County’s Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department took first place. Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Department took second. Ohio and Guyan Townships Fire District placed third. The annual competition’s invite list opens to all Gallia County fire fighters as well as Point Pleasant.
“I think it’s a great way to get the departments together, have a great time and just enjoy life. Life in the fire service,” said Elliot.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.