Festival Shines In Park

NEW KNOXVILLE — The New Knoxville/Washington Township Fire Department earned bragging rights for the year Saturday after beating the competition in the extrication competition at the Fireman’s Picnic.

Buckland, Chickasaw, New Bremen/German Township and New Knoxville/Washington Township fire departments went head-to-head in the annual competition, most boasting times under three minutes.

“Over the years, the time has gotten faster because the guys are learning the technique,” New Knoxville/Washington Township Fire Chief Scott Schroer said. “When we first started, we had teams taking five or six minutes. This makes everybody better in the field.”

The competition, in which firefighters carefully removed the doors of a car, has become a staple at the Fireman’s Picnic at New Knoxville Community Park. Schroer noted that the firefighters have fun with the competition.

“We all enjoy the good, clean rivalry,” Schroer said. “It’s a lot of fun. We hope to get more teams and do it again next year.”

In addition to the extra training and fun the firefighters get from participating in the event, Schroer noted that the extrication competition also aides the departments in their communication.

“As a whole, it has made our departments work together better,” he said. “It’s a good interdepartmental practice for everybody.”

Although his department did not participate in the extrication competition, St. Marys firefighter Andy Fischbach attended the Fireman’s Picnic, where he sold handmade bracelets, with all the proceeds going to the New Knoxville/Washington Township Fire Department’s new scholarship. Schroer said the scholarship is aimed to help a New Knoxville student who is interested in firefighting, law enforcement, nursing, emergency medicine or the military.

“We thought we’d try to do something to help the school out and create interest in the field,” Schroer said.

Fischbach, a Marine Corps veteran, said he learned to make the bracelets while he was serving and has recently started the hobby again.

“This is something I do to pass time,” he said.

Fischbach said he can make a variety of things, including bracelets, dog leashes, dog collars and belts.

“I can do pretty much anything,” he said, noting that he also has a wide variety of colors.

Fischbach noted that he recently made bracelets for the New Bremen Cardinal Jets program before he was approached about helping with the scholarship.

“If people want them, they just have to call,” Fischbach said, noting that he can be reached at 419-953-2090.

Life Flight 3 of Bluffton touched down at the festival after 5 p.m. to a crowd of eager children, ready to see the inside of the helicopter. Life Flight Transport Nurse Gerri Hempfling said the company has five helicopters that serve the area.

“We go to accident scenes and take them to a hospital,” Hempfling said, noting that Life Flight also transports patients from hospital to hospital. “We transport all kinds of patients, from little kids to older patients.”

Hempfling said a crew consists of three people.

“We fly a crew with a pilot, nurse and a medic,” she said.

In addition to their interest in the helicopter landing, children at the Fireman’s Picnic also flocked to DARE Officer Samuel Blank’s table. Kids received a variety of safety information, coloring books, pencils and stickers.

“I’ve really been pushing Internet safety,” Blank said of the materials he was passing out. “Kids are really getting into the Internet.”

Blank visits fifth-grade classes throughout Auglaize County as part of the DARE program.

He said he has been teaching kids about Internet safety and hopes that some of kids, which were comprised of former students and future students of his program, will read the information he handed out.

“I hand out the information in hopes that they’ll read it later,” he said.

The festival continued into Saturday night, with a showing of the Ohio State University football game. The Indoorfins wrapped up the night with live entertainment. Schroer said he was pleased with the turnout for the event and said the sunny weather helped.

“The weather’s been great,” he said. “It’s really helped us out.”

For more information on the New Knoxville/ Washington Township Fire Department, visit NKFire.net.