In a just a few days, eight firefighters, including two cadets, will be in Savannah vying against a host of other firefighters to determine the best firefighting competition group in Georgia.
"The guys feel like they're ready to compete on the next level, so we're going to give it a shot and see what we can do," said McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Capt. Steven Parish. "In talking to them, they feel confident about their chances of not just competing in the state competition, but going down there and winning it."
The local group, members and volunteers with the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services, have only been competing in such events for a year. Just last year, they competed in - and won - their first such competition, the Octoberfest, which was held in Martinez.
Christopher "Buckshot" Hinton, a 16-year-old cadet firefighter, who is a sophomore at Thomson High School, has faith in the team.
"I really believe we have the team to win the state title," said Christopher. "It's a real adrenalin rush to be out there competing."
Capt. Parish, who serves as coach of the team, believes the team has a lot going for themselves.
"You can do a lot of things when you believe in yourself," said Capt. Parish. "This team definitely believes in themselves."
The local team consists of the following members: Christopher Hinton, Nick Faircloth, Jerry Fullwood, Jim Parish, Brian Hood, David Eller, Jason Burnley and Steven Parish.
"The guys are young and energetic and eager to learn," said Capt. Parish, who also works fulltime as a firefighter with the Augusta Fire Department. "They have put a lot of time into preparing for the state competition. I think they have a very good chance of winning the state fire competition."
He noted that the team's running ability and timing "is really good."
Capt. Parish said he provides the team with pep talks to encourage them to continue to do their best and to keep them focused.
"Keeping them focused is very important," said Capt. Parish. "The reason is that the state competition is so fierce. It's very important our team stays focused."