Competition Heats Up In Varese Tournament

Members of Commack FD prepare for competition. (Photos by John Mancino)

Members of Commack FD prepare for competition. (Photos by John Mancino)

A recent tournament dedicated to the memory of fallen Northport firefighter Chuck Varese shows that local volunteers have what it takes when it comes to extricating patients from vehicles.

The eighth annual Charles “Chuck” Varese JOLT (Jaws of Life) Vehicle Extrication Tournament, held May 9 at Steers Park in Northport, featured 15 teams of volunteers, including squads from Melville, Greenlawn, two from East Northport, two from Commack, two from Huntington Manor and four from Northport, including young representatives from their Smokeaters division.

An East Northport competitor goes to work, applying the Jaws of Life to a mangled car.

An East Northport competitor goes to work, applying the Jaws of Life to a mangled car.

Huntington Manor 2 captured the eighth annual crown, cutting off all four doors of a Crown Victoria in 8:28, while Greenlawn’s team took second place with a time of 9:52. Melville completed the life-saving task in 10 minutes, edging East Northport 1 for the third-place trophy.

Melville advanced in its opening rounds of the qualifying brackets with times of 6:01 and 8:08 to take two doors off of a smashed car. Greenlawn made its way in with times of 6:13 and Huntington Manor 2 got in with 5:09 – tied with East Northport for the best time in the opening rounds – and 6:49, respectively. East Northport opened with a 7:39 completion followed by the 5:09 against Commack.    

The tournament is a tribute to Varese, who was killed in an April 15, 2008 motorcycle accident. He was hit by a driver under the influence of drugs.

Not only is the tournament an ongoing tribute to the young man, but a valuable opportunity for volunteers to sharpen their vehicle-extrication skills, which could prove crucial one day.

Gershon Recycling donated the dozens of automobiles that the firefighters tore into during the event.