About Us | NYS Drill Teams
For over 100 years, fire departments throughout New York State have competed against each other to measure their skills. As motor-driven firefighting equipment was introduced, firemen incorporated these vehicles into their events, alongside more traditional tests of stretching hose and hoisting ladders. These competitions have evolved into a terrific display of basic firefighting skills and teamwork, exhibitions that are one-of-a-kind around the world. Your volunteer department is welcome to compete, and we are here to show you how. .
Drill teams are a vital component of the department they serve, with the specific purpose of providing the opportunity to hone basic firefighting proficiencies, develop and foster teamwork, build character, teach commitment and discipline, promote physical fitness and conditioning and attract and retain individuals in the volunteer fire service. These purposes are achieved through firematic competition which complements the fire department's primary function of emergency response to fires, medical emergencies, and other calamities. Drill teams consequently instill their members with a life-long commitment to serving their community as highly skilled volunteer firefighters.
Benefits of Maintaining A Drill Team
1. Recruitment & Retention
Convincing today's youth to volunteer is getting increasingly difficult. In order to keep new members coming in, departments state-wide have been budgeting for major public relations campaigns, and major marketing including print, TV, and online advertising. These programs have delivered mixed results. On the other hand, drill teams are cost-effective ways to turn heads and draw interest. When a youngster sees the drill teams compete, they ask one question: "How do I get in?" After they join, they grow a passion for firefighting as a whole, and with the right direction, become effective firefighters for your community. Drill teams keep them in your department longer as well, important since we all know that an experienced firefighter is priceless in the fire service.
2. Team building & Department Pride
Team Building Exercises aren't just corporate mumbo-jumbo. Local, state and federal government agencies across the country invest in team building exercises to build trust and develop interpersonal working skills. Your department's drill team becomes a way for your firefighters to learn how to come together for a greater good. A successful team is a source of great pride for our departments, and gives every department something to rally behind. Your drill team also helps develop leadership qualities in the members entrusted with managing and overseeing the team.
3. Athletic Activity
High Schools have football teams. Fire Departments have drill teams. Drill teams practice two times a week, and compete throughout the summer. Some contests include our Class B and C apparatus, others include the members alone. Watch the "Buckets" event, where twelve 45lb buckets are lifted to the arch, and you'll see a team of firefighters working together as athletes. Your drill team will leave the summer healthier and in better shape, a priority for all fire departments.
4. Practice Under Pressure
Structure fires are down across the country, and that's a good thing. But firefighters know that delivering under pressure is a learned skill, and recreating the intensity of the fire attack is very difficult. The most successful drill teams learn how to perform when the pressure is on. Drill teams have to eliminate distractions, and perform at their best to be successful. Most important, drill team competition takes backbone. When two members from your drill team are entering a second floor window of a private dwelling to VEIS above the fire, you know they won't freeze, or fake a malfunction of their SCBA; Drill team competition and firefighting takes guts.
Ranked Reasons for
Maintaining a Drill Team
#1 Recruitment & Retention
#2 Team Building & Department Pride
#3 Athletic Activity
#4 Practice Under Pressure
#5 Firefighting Skills
5. Firefighting Skills
Drill teams across the state have been competing since the late 1800s. As such, many drill team events might seem simple compared to today's firefighting evolutions. But the basics are still the same: raising, climbing and operating on ladders, connecting to hydrants, connecting hose couplings and advancing hoselines are all useful skills on the fireground, and drill team members can perform these tasks flawlessly. Your department might not be using the bucket brigade anytime soon, but they WILL need to work as a team - departments across the state benefit when their members know how to work together. In motorized competition, the vehicles used are obviously disparate from those used in emergency responses, but their operation, pumps, and equipment are similar to what would be expected on the fireground.
Fire Departments throughout the state rely on mutual aid to ensure the safety of their residents. Your next structure fire is not the time to introduce yourself to your neighboring department. At every drill, firefighters from across the area are making contacts and building professional relationships that will benefit their department as a whole. In the corporate world, they call this "networking", but our departments call it family. Next time you need a standby, you want to know how a department runs supply lines, or you want to get some time at a department's training simulator, you can rely on your drill team connections for help.
Drill team expenditures are not precluded by NYS law as long as the governing body is realizing sufficient benefits to justify these expenditures.
According to Section 5 of the Volunteer Firemen's Benefit Law:
The duties and activities in relation to which benefits shall be paid and provided pursuant to this chapter are:
Subsection i. While…practicing for, or participating as a contestant or an official in, any competitive tournament, contest or public exhibition conducted for firefighters which is intended to promote the efficiency of the fire department, fire company or any unit thereof, including necessary travel directly connected therewith other than travel to and returning from such practice.
Importantly, other competitive events are excluded: subsection m. While…working in connection with a fund raising activity of his fire company…including necessary travel directly connected therewith, as well as necessary travel to and necessary travel returning from such activity, but shall not include competitive events in which volunteer firemen are competitors, such as baseball, basketball, football, bowling, tugs of war, water-ball fights, donkey baseball, boxing, wrestling, contests between bands or drum corps, or other competitive events in which volunteer firemen are competitors and which involve physical exertion on the part of the competitors.
Read more at: www.weblaws.org/new_york/laws/n.y._volunteer_firefighters'_benefit_law_section_5
The B and C class competition vehicles are not used for emergency responses, and operate at a GVWR of significantly under 10,000 lbs. A best practices standard has been developed by the New York State Volunteer Firemen's Parade and Drill Team Captains Association (NYSVFP+DTCA), which covers the requirements to maintain maximum safety on these apparatus. The NYSVFP+DTCA is continually striving to increase safety for our members, while maintaining the 100 year tradition of FD drill team competition.