The 20th annual New Jersey Firefighters Bicycle Race to raise funds for The Burn Center at St. Barnabas Hospital, the state’s only certified burn center, was held on July 24, 2016, in downtown Stirling in Morris County. More than 60 firefighters raced, including seven female firefighters. Each year this event, the only one of its kind in America, is hosted by the Stirling Volunteer Fire Company, whose members spent more than 200 hours to make it a success.

The two-mile race is held in full turn-out gear (less boots) and, this year, the temperature at race time was in the low 90s and the skies sunny. Due to the heat the racers were asked if they wanted to race without their gear and just wear helmets. The vote was unanimous to race in their full turn-out gear! All the firefighters completed the race without incident, a testament to their strength, endurance, and dedication.

After the race, Stirling firefighters hosted a picnic lunch in their air conditioned firehouse. Following the meal, trophies were awarded to the winners by firefighter race chairman Frank Reilly and race vice-chairman Steve Remington.

The top 10 winners were: 1st place Dawher Castro, Stirling Vol. Fire Co. (this was the third consecutive year he won the race); 2nd, Eric Murphy, Liberty Corner FC; 3rd, Peter Aprahamian, Liberty Corner FC; 4th, Michael O’Brien, Liberty Corner; 5th, Richard Owens, Wilkes-Barre (PA) FD; 6th, Rich Freyrer, Dunellen FD; 7th, David Krill, Kenilworth FD; 8th (tied), Ryan Daughton, E. Franklin FD and Ryan Walsh, Liberty Corner FD; 9th, Kurt Meaney, Hampton FD; and 10th, Nick DeThomas, Millington FC. The first place female firefighter racer was Isabella DeBiasse of the Millington Fire Company for the second consecutive year.

The oldest racer was Kenneth Larson, a fit 68-year-old firefighter, from the Green Brook Fire EMS Dept. He finished 68th and was presented with the Oldest Firefighter Racer Award” which he joyfully accepted with much fanfare.

The participating fire departments were: Dunellen, East Franklin, Forked River, Green Brook, Hampton, Kenilworth, Liberty Corner, Millington, North Branch, Perth Amboy, Plainsboro, Stirling, Upper Saddle River and Wilkes-Barre (PA).

For photos and more of the race go to Stirling’s website: www.stirlingfd.com and click on the Facebook icon. The 2017 race will be held on Sunday, September 26, 2017. Please plan to attend and participate as a firefighter racer if possible. Information and registration information will be on the Stirling website next spring.

(Top): Racers at the starting line on Main Avenue in Stirling. (Bottom, left to right): Race Winners: Michael O’Brien, Rayan Walsh, Eric Murphy, and Peter Aprahamian, Ken Larson, Richard Owens, race chairman Frank Reilly, Dawher Castro, and race vice-chairman Steve Remington, and Isabella DeBiasse.

– Fire News photos courtesy of Frank Reilly