The Herald Bulletin

July 20, 2013

Firefighters triumph in emergency responders contest

Fire Rescue House of Madison County is real winner in annual grudge match

By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Police and firemen racing each other on bouncy balls made to look like horses? It's not a sight many would expect to see unless they witnessed it first-hand at Hoosier Park Saturday evening.

It's where Madison County police officers and firefighters battled for bragging rights during the annual Gun 'n Hoses competition with games like tug-of-war and a jelly donut eating contest.

John Owen of the Madison County Sheriff's Department said getting around on those bouncy balls was a lot harder than it looked. But it was a fun evening, too.

"It's a great thing for the community, great for the officers and firemen, great for the camaraderie and great for the firehouse," he said.

All donations benefited the Fire Rescue House of Madison County. In total, the police and fire departments raised a little over $500. Hoosier Park donated $5,000.

Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said the department was glad to help and participate in some friendly competition. He added — jokingly — that the police department was tired of winning.

The joke may not be so funny now since the fire department won this year after a bitter defeat last year.

It came down to one jelly donut, Anderson Fire Chief Phil Rogers said.

"It feels good (winning) this year," he said. "Hopefully next year we can keep the bragging rights with us."

Fire Rescue House President Frank Caldwell said it was "a great night for us," adding that law enforcement and firemen enjoyed themselves and appreciated being able to support a good cause.

In addition to the money raised Saturday night, Caldwell said the Fire Rescue House has also received a $6,300 grant for new storage space at the Alexandria location.

With fires hitting families unexpectedly and indiscriminately, he said, it's a cause many people are willing to give to. And for that, he's appreciative.

From the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2012, he said, 23 families have been housed in the Anderson and Alexandria locations.

He added that they're in the early stages of working with local hospitals on briefly housing those who come into town for family surgeries.

Madison County's Fire Rescue House is also working with the Columbus Fire Department to help them start their own Fire Rescue House.

Columbus' Fire Rescue House is in the early stages and would be a huge help to families, said Mike Wilson, a Columbus firefighter.

"There is no Band-aid you can put on the feeling a family has when there's a fire, but we can help with healing process," he said.

The Fire Rescue House of Madison County temporarily houses families who've lost their homes to fires. "That void, that's what we fill," Caldwell said.

Curtiss McKissick, a firefighter with the Pendleton Fire Department, said he was glad to see the turnout and money raised.

"It's friendly rivalry (between police and fire). We love to hate each other," he said with a laugh. "It's a good time."

Like Dani Palmer on Facebook and follow her @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.