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Panthers Drill Team
The Drill Team is most active during the summer competitive season. They are a group of dedicated fireman who spend many hours practicing to achieve their best in competing against other fire departments in many firematic tournaments held throughout New York State.
The Cutchogue Fire Department was organized in 1928, and in the following year they were participating in tournaments, learning the "hard way". With equipment borrowed from the Greenport Fire Department, they took part in the annual Washington's Birthday contests in Greenport.
In 1932 most of the contests required motorized equipment. The Cutchogue Fireman, using money that they raised themselves, purchased a second hand, right-hand drive Pierce Arrow car. Working in their spare time they converted it into a hose car for tournaments as well as general fire department use. It was used along with the 1928 American LaFrance pumper in the first tournament of the newly formed North Fork Volunteer Firemans Association and in the annual Suffolk County Tournament.
World War II came along and the drill team took part only in the Washington's Birthday Contests. The end of the conflict overseas brought renewed interest in the tournaments. In 1946, the new team, called the "Panthers", entered many tournaments, including New York State Drills. They remained competitive and won their share of prizes.
Over the years costs of keeping a specialized truck up to date caused many departments to cease competition. Rules were developed using standard fire department equipment not motorized. Standard rules were drawn up in the county and state associations making provisions for "Old Fashion Drills". The Panthers would begin to compete in this style of competition.
The Cutchogue Team would host its own invitational tournament for many years. It was held each year during the month of July and hosted on the track that the fireman built opposite the Cutchogue Firehouse where it still exists today. It would be one of the first night tournaments held under the lights in the cool of the evening with both teams and spectators enjoying the Cutchogue hospitality. This annual drill would continue to be held each year until 1997 when the interest in the Old Fashion Drills began to decline.
Throughout the teams years of competition, they remained very competitive. Winning the North Fork Championship in 1961 and 1985. Perhaps one of their biggest accomplishments was the winning of the 1985 Suffolk County Old Fashioned Championship, the first in Cutchogue Fire Department History. It was held on July 13, 1985, in Patchogue and would mark the Panthers most successful season up to that point.
Cutchogue's winning tradition would continue into the 1990's with another Suffolk County Championship in 1989 and North Fork Championship in 1991. The Panthers would go on to win three consecutive Suffolk County Old Fashion Championships in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The Panthers would also be crowned the yearly " Total Point Champions" for Suffolk County for the years 1993, 1994, and 1995. A reward for there performances throughout the entire season. During these years the mixture of youth and seasoned veterans made Cutchogue a competitive force in every tournament they participated, gaining them recognition throughout the County and State.
As the Panthers became more and more competitive, the interest in the Old Fashion Drills began to decline. Fewer drills were being held each year. Cutchogue would compete wherever they could, often traveling to Nassau County for drills making many friendships along the way. In late 1995 the team decided that it was time for the Panthers to try to return to motorized competition. Throughout the offseason the team focused on fundraising in order to gain enough funds to purchase a B-Truck. Several fundraisers such as breakfasts, raffles and Christmas tree sales were held. Through hard work, the team raised enough funds to purchase a used truck from the St. James F.D. The truck was brought home, and with the help of many members and local businesses, the team rebuilt the current B-truck in time to compete in the 1996 season.
The first tournament of the 1996 season was held in Lindenhurst and would be another one of the Panthers proudest moments as they would finish the day in seventh place overall in only their first motorized tournament. The Panthers placed first in the Efficiency contest and fourth in the 3-man ladder contest.
In only their Fourth Tournament of the season, the Panthers would place Fifth overall in the Suffolk County Drill at Central Islip and then again the following week at the Farmingville Invitational Drill. Throughout 1996 the Panthers would continue to be successful in the Efficiency contest placing in this contest in almost every tournament that season. The Panthers would be crowned "Suffolk County Efficiency Total Point Champs for 1996".
The Panthers would again work hard to raise funds to eventually purchase a used C-truck from The North Bellmore F.D. in 1999 in order to be able to compete in all 8 contests of a tournament. Through their dedication and hard work the Panthers continue to remain competitive and carry on the winning tradition of Cutchogue Fire Department. This tradition is shown by the many years of trophies, being proudly displayed around the firehouse.
Some of the Teams Accomplishments are listed below:
Suffolk County Old Fashion Champions - 1985, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994
North Fork Old Fashion Champions - 1961, 1985, 1991(Co-Champs)
Suffolk County Old Fashion Total Point Champions - 1993, 1994, 1995
Top 5 finishes in N.Y.State Old Fashion Drill - 1993(3rd), 1994(4th ), 1995(2nd), 1996(tie 2nd), 2005 (3rd)
Town of Brookhaven Champions -2008, 2009
Suffolk County Efficency Total Point Champions -1996
Top 5 finishes at Motorized Drills -
1996 Suffolk County Drill @ Central Islip- 5th place overall
1996 Farmingville Invitational Drill @ Ridge - 5th place overall
1999 Patchogue Invitational Drill - 4th place overall
2003 Riverhead Invitational Drill - 5th place overall
Panthers also hold (2) course records in the efficency contest -Hagerman (8.84) & Rockville Centre (9.04)
CreatedWednesday, 12 October 2016
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