Dubois Volunteer Firefighters rise to the challenge again

Tension was high on Saturday evening, as Dubois Volunteer Firefighters raced out, risking life and limb, when they heard the signal. During the third annual Firemans Ball at the Headwaters Center, they competed on kiddie bikes in full firefighting gear. The race got off to a hazardous start, as Fire Chief Mike Franchini's bike fell apart in what seemed to be an explosion during his practice run. Was it a terrorist act, or merely that his outsize frame broke the tiny saddle? "The handlebar came off," he explained. [image: firemansball6.jpg] *Franchini at the starting line* *[image: firemansball2.jpg]* *Franchini after losing his handle bars* His handy crew mates were able to fix the bike before the first heat, and it survived the full lap (although Franchini did not win the heat). Bids in support of some competitors ran as high as three figures, with the winning bidder in the final heat splitting the pot with the fire department. Music for dancing between the heats was provided by Jess O'Neal and the Neversweat Players. The kiddie bikes were decorated and donated to the race by local businesses and institutions, which could also choose the crew member to ride their vehicle for a fee of $100. Two of the bikes were constructed from parts as a school project by students in Dubois junior high and high school. [image: firemansball3.jpg] Firefighter Matthew Szeliga won the final heat, easily besting his two remaining challengers, after they collided at the turn. "Where else could you have so much fun just for paying money?" quipped emcee (and firefighter) Jeff Milton. *featured photo of Firefighter Matthew Szeliga on his winning lap* *Story and photos h/t Lois Wingerson* #county10 #news