Torrington fire sets record at convention

Jess Oaks
Posted 6/21/24

TORRINGTON – The Torrington Volunteer Fire Department attended the 91st Annual Wyoming State Fire Convention in Afton, Wyoming last weekend and the hometown heroes came home as record-holders. …

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Torrington fire sets record at convention


TORRINGTON – The Torrington Volunteer Fire Department attended the 91st Annual Wyoming State Fire Convention in Afton, Wyoming last weekend and the hometown heroes came home as record-holders. The three-day event features a series of timed, practical relay-type courses, golf tournaments, barbeques, awards ceremonies, and of course, the opportunity for firefighters to network with their own. 

During a recent town council meeting, past fire chief and long-time member of the department, Dennis Estes, gave the mayor and town council members an update on the department’s successes over the weekend.

“The team did really well,” Estes told the town council on Tuesday evening. “The last run they were kind of in third place and they didn’t really want to take third place, so they really went pretty hard at it. I will give a shout-out to Mike Lira; he is our chopper. He’s been smashing that board for not very long and he’s really good at it. Another shout out to his dad, Albert, which is a 66-year-old plugman and he had the fastest time straight away ever recorded last weekend in Afton, Wyoming. Out of 91 years, Albert opened that plug faster than anybody has, and they got water there in record time. He (Albert) did break the record that my team held for a really long time,” Estes said. “I am really proud of that.”

The convention hosted seven teams this year, according to department member, Mike Lira.

“We got first, second, and third out of the five events,” Lira explained. “First in the chop. State record. In the replacement we got third and the wye we got second.”

Although the department enjoys the competition, the contest isn’t just about fun and games Lira expressed. The skills used during the relay races are skills firefighters use every day. 

“The first event was the replacement. If something happens to a hose and you have to replace it, that is how long it would take you to replace the hose and get water flowing again,” Lira explained. “The second event is the wye, which is, if you are needing two sections of hose, you would put a wye in there and then you have two separate hoses.” 

The department also competed in the cellar nozzle or chop event where they beat the previously recorded time of 14.12 when they clocked in at a record-breaking 13.89.

“The cellar basically to chop a hole into a basement or crawl space, stick the nozzle in there, and start spraying to put the fire out,” Lira explained. “The ladder would be to race up on top of a rooftop and spray water.” 

“The chop is probably our strongest event. Everybody likes it and it has always been a goal to try and beat the record,” Lira said. “We never thought we would, but we kept getting better and better. It seemed like we did very well and when the time came in, it said that we actually took first place and beat a state record. I couldn’t believe it at first. Of course, the whole team was pretty excited about it.”

Even though Lira explained most of the skills in the events aren’t done on a regular basis thanks to advancements made in equipment, having the training is still a valuable asset to the department. 

Lira expressed next year’s convention, the 92nd Annual Wyoming State Fire Association Convention will be held in Torrington in June and Lira is hoping to increase local participation. Last year, the department sent two teams to the convention, however this year, according to Lira, participation was down.

“This year with people’s work schedules, we had one person get hurt and had to have surgery. We are hoping since we are hosting next year in Torrington that we will be able to bring that second team back and have two teams compete,” Lira explained. “We are trying to get Lingle involved and surrounding areas, Yoder, and all of them. See if they can get a team together. It is starting to die out and we are trying to find ways to keep it going.”

According to Lira, Torrington hasn’t hosted the event in nearly 20 years.

“We got a lot of work to do to the field,” Lira said. “Of course, when we are hosting, we like to invite everyone and make them feel welcome and then put on a great event.”

The relay events will be held at the training field in Pioneer Park. 

Lira anticipates next year should bring fire departments in Wyoming to Torrington for at least a three-night stay. 

“After talking with a lot of the people, a lot of them are trying to get a second team going,” Lira said. “Lander dropped out this year and by next year they are hoping to get their team back. If we can get Lingle to get a team. We are just hoping to get an increase where people bring two teams.” 

Each team has five members.

During this year’s convention, the department also won the sportsmanship award, which was voted on by all participating teams, replacement – third place, wye – second place, cellar nozzle (chop) – first place (new state record 13.89), overall – sixth place. All tournament – breaker – Brandon Gasseling and all tournament – axe – Mike Lira.