Firefighters’ Goodwill Games went off last weekend

The Lihu‘e Airport Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Department hosted the Hawai‘i State Firefighters’ 30th Annual Goodwill Games at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort and Beach Club last weekend. Nearly 100 firefighters from across the state converged on Kaua‘i to compete in the traditional golf and volleyball tournaments and the inaugural firefighter challenge.

Tournament founding father, Melvin Ako, participated in this year’s Goodwill Games. Some 30 years ago Ako spearheaded the event for all aircraft rescue and firefighting departments across the state in hopes of promoting department camaraderie.

The tournament rotates throughout the four districts of the Airports Division in Hawai‘i: Kaua‘i, Maui, O‘ahu and Hawai‘i. In recent years this tournament has not only fulfilled its original intent, but has also provided an opportunity for all emergency agencies to work together. This interaction with one another helps build stronger relationships and enables all departments to work together more efficiently in times of emergency.

The Goodwill Games began on July 25 at the Kaua‘i Lagoons’ Maile and Kiele courses. Some 51 golfers hit the fairways in search of pay dirt. Top honors in the Callaway System competition went to Ronnie Arevallo (Honolulu International), with Mitchell Ikeda (KFD) coming in a close second.

On July 26 Kalapaki Beach was pumping with action as firefighters hit the sand courts. Six teams representing stations from as far away as Kona International Airport showed up to compete. Top honors went to the Kaua‘i Fire Department’s team made up of Jason Ornellas, Aaron Edwards, Frank Sube, Imai Karratti and Keola Keahiolalo, who won overall and outside agency brackets. Barking Sands Fire Department/American Medical Response team came in second in the outside agency bracket.

In the state firefighters bracket, top honors went to the Honolulu International Airport’s team: Barry Navares, Chris Fortuno, Ronnie Arevallo and Jon Tabulo. Second place went to a combined team consisting of Mel Ako (Kona International Airport), Ray Thompson (Kalaeloa), Alan Arquero and Keith Campbell (Maui International).

The inaugural Firefighter Challenge took place July 26. It entails a timed two-man team event consisting of tasks that might occur at an actual aircraft crash or emergency. The challenge tests the team’s strength, endurance and most of all, teamwork. Tasks involved include donning a fire suit and breathing apparatus, fire attack, high-rise pack carry, debris removal (flipping end over end a 400-pound tractor tire), forcible entry and rescue.

As “Eye of the Tiger” blared from the loud speakers, the starters’ horn and the roar of the crowd sent the first two of eight teams off and running. Firefighters from across the state and Kaua‘i competed against the clock and one another.

In the state firefighters division, Peter Caalim and Ioane Lopes took first place and the overall title with a dominating performance of 2:09. In second place was Honolulu International’s team of Barry Navarres and Jon Tabulo. In the outer agency division, teams from Barking Sands Fire Department dominated. Top honors went to the team of Cameron Ventura and Aaron Labugen. Coming in a close second was Kyle Swigart and Jace Schaefer. Competition was tight with teams winning and losing by hundredths of a second. The weekend and the games concluded with a motorcycle ride around the island on Sunday.

• Max Matias is Goodwill Games Coordinator for the State of Hawai‘i.


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