On a warm September night, the aroma of midwestern grilled hot dogs consumed the still air as local firefighters competed in the 7th annual Water Fights hosted by Maryville Public Safety Fire Division.
MPS Fire Division hosts an event they call “Water Fights” annually, inviting all Nodaway County fire divisions as well as some from other counties. The departments challenge one another in a friendly competition involving a sturdy wire, a red barrel and two fire hoses locked and loaded with gallons upon gallons of water.
Teams geared up in full firefighting uniforms, using fire hoses to spray water at the barrel lifted close to 12 feet above ground by a wire. The first team to push the barrel to the other team’s side, clearly marked by a pulley the barrel would come in contact with, would win the match.
If a team had no obvious leverage in a minute’s time, MPS Fire Captain Phil Rickabaugh blew the whistle and each team would have to rotate the person in front manning the head of the hose.
Four divisions participated in this year’s challenge: Polk, Parnell, Central Platte and Maryville. The best three teams were awarded trophies following the round-robin style matchup between each department.
Central Platte drove the farthest to participate as a division from the Platte City area. Their team leader Zack Grenier said the competition provided a team-building experience.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Grenier said. “This is our first time up here doing it, and it was a great time with these guys. We look forward to coming back next year.”
Though the Central Platte division ended up finishing fourth in the competition, the crew said they were satisfied with the day’s events.
“We got the invitation and knew we had to come and do this,” Grenier said. “The hot dogs just added to the fun.”
During a break in the competition, the Maryville Elks Lodge donated $500 to each department from Nodaway County. The funding came from calendar sales the organization puts on, providing a way they can donate to local causes like high school after proms.
Maryville Elks Lodge Trustee James Richardson attended the event.
“This is our second year selling the calendars,” Richardson said. “It’s a good way for us to come up with funds to donate. We hope to have more calendars made and ready for sale by late October.”
By the end of the event, firefighters and their uniforms were drenched and Market Street in front of the courthouse looked as if tremendous rainfall took over the clear summer night.
Families of each department crew attended the event, their children at play in small puddles created by the people they look up to most.
Rickabaugh said Maryville had about 12 firefighters participate in the event, from set-up, to participating to teardown. Maryville participated with two teams, and ended up taking first place.
“Events like this provide a ton of camaraderie,” Rickabaugh said. “Water Fights provides us the opportunity to interact with departments we don’t usually work with. It’s great to come together in situations like this where there is no stress, get out there and just have fun.”