Defiance wins Bristol fireman's water battle again


By Eric Dickervitz

Whether it’s the combination of youth and experience, or the power they derive from the milk and cookies they’re reputed to stock in the firehouse, members of Defiance Engine and Hose Company Number 3 not only won their battles during this year’s Firemen’s Field Day, but took home their fifth Vollaro/Van Voast traveling trophy, a feat no other company has been able to do even once.

Throughout the year, the four fire companies work together, responding to emergencies within Bristol as well as providing mutual aid to nearby communities. One day a year, however, the companies compete against each another, with trophies and bragging rights among the spoils of victory.

“This is the only time we get together as a department,” said Paul Vollaro Sr., a member of Defiance.

During Firemen’s Field Day, the firefighters test their skills against each other in four events — tug-of-war, dry hose, wet event and midnight alarm — where teamwork, skill and speed are required as the firefighters simulate actual conditions. But the second event, the water battle, is the main event. There, a team’s strength, stamina, communication and accuracy can be the difference between winning and getting washed away.

The competition on Sunday drew a large crowd of firefighters, family, friends and other spectators to the field in front of Guiteras School to watch the firefighters compete.

Friendly taunts were thrown from all sides, in an attempt to distract and derail the competition. True to their name, Defiance wouldn’t listen, taking both the dry events and the water battle.

While members of Defiance claim to have certain strategies that make them successful, it appears teamwork and desire are major reasons for their success.

“Every time we come to the water battle, we come to win,” said Frank Sousa of Defiance.

Communication is important in the water battle, as each team faces away from the other with only the fire hose directed at the opponent. As the coach looks on, he gives the team directions on which way to move the stream of water to most effectively knock out the other team.

After 35 years of participation, Mr. Vollaro, who coached Defiance to their win, recognizes the value of experience.

“If you can get the younger guys to listen, you can win,” he said.

To retain the traveling trophy, a team must win the water battle three times in a row. This is the fifth trophy to be retained by Defiance.

“We have five. No one else has one,” Mr. Vollaro said.

Defiance walked away with the traveling trophy, the Clarence B. Davis trophy and plaque awarded to the overall winner, as well as the Fourth of July committee trophy.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.