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New York City Firefighters Welcomed To New Zealand

New York City Firefighters Welcomed To New Zealand

A group of 30 New York City firefighters were welcomed at Auckland International Airport this morning with a powhiri and by the Auckland Police Pipe Band and emergency services personnel from the airport.

The firefighters have been funded to New Zealand by the ACE Group of Companies to participate in the World Firefighters Games and to support Team Dennis Conner/Stars & Stripes, the New York Yacht Club’s entry for the 2003 America’s Cup. ACE is a Gold-Level sponsor of Team Dennis Conner.

Firefighter Vinnie Plover said it was fantastic to finally be in New Zealand after anticipating the trip and training hard since August when ACE’s support for the firefighters was announced.

“None of us that flew in today have been to New Zealand before and to be greeted like that with a Maori welcome and then by the band and our colleagues here was an honour,” he said.

“We’re thrilled to be here and have the opportunity to compete in the World Firefighters Games, especially because this year’s “Memorial Games” remember those who have lost their lives in the course of duty - particularly our 343 brothers who gave their lives last September.

“Our participation in the Memorial Games provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate the resilience of New York City and to personally show our appreciation to so many firefighters who supported us through a difficult year.

“We’re also looking forward to cheering on Dennis and his crew in Auckland as they work to bring the America’s Cup back to New York where it belongs.”

ACE Limited vice chairman Don Kramer, who has travelled out to support the firefighters said the company was proud to bring the firefighters and their guests to New Zealand. “If there is one group that exemplifies perseverance and the American spirit of heroism and patriotism, it is the New York City firefighters,” Don Kramer said.

“A few months ago, we discovered that a group of New York City firefighters wanted to go to the games, but couldn’t find the funds. We at ACE felt it was essential that the fighting spirit of those so willing to give it all, be represented at this year’s World Firefighters Games and we’re privileged to have made their trip possible. We wish them the best of luck and hope their support will help Dennis and Stars & Stripes over the next couple of weeks.”

The firefighters will spend this week in Auckland supporting Team Dennis Conner and the Stars & Stripes crew. Auckland Mayor John Banks is welcoming the firefighters to the city at a reception on Tuesday.

They travel to Christchurch on Friday. In Christchurch the firefighters will attend the dedication of a memorial park and the unveiling of a sculpture made from pieces of the World Trade Center on Saturday before participating in the opening ceremony of the World Firefighters Games. At the Games they will chase gold in athletic events such as basketball, track and field, swimming and golf.

Steve Maly of Queens, New York is competing for the gold in the “Toughest Firefighter Alive” competition, which consists of four timed events including the hose run, firefighter obstacle course, and tower and stair climbs.

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