The Anaheim Ducks are in the midst of a first-round playoff series with the Winnipeg Jets, which for Anaheim Fire & Rescue can mean only one thing:
Well, maybe a little more than T-shirts.
But for the last 30 years or so, any time one of Anaheim’s professional sports teams — the Angels or the Ducks — have made the playoffs, a lot of the buzz around the city’s fire stations has been about T-shirts.
That’s because Anaheim Fire & Rescue has engaged in a friendly competition with playoff opponents of the Angels and Ducks that requires the losing side to send T-shirts representing their fire agency to the victorious city’s fire agency.
For example, in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, when the Ducks beat the Dallas Stars, Anaheim Fire and Rescue received 40 “Dallas Fire Department” T-shirts.
And when the Ducks lost to the L.A. Kings in the second round, Anaheim Fire & Rescue — in a humorous nod to the city’s baseball team, the Angels — sent T-shirts bearing the inscription “L.A. Fire Department of Anaheim.”
“It’s a fun thing we do to get our firefighters a little more into the games,” said Jim Ramirez, vice president of the Anaheim Firefighters Association and a firefighter who works out of Station 8.
“And it’s a good way for public safety agencies to show their support for their local teams and to build bonds with firefighters in cities around North America,” Ramirez added.
The T-shirt competition has, for years, been organized by Kevin Symmes, who now is a captain at Station 9 and has worked for the agency for 29 years.
Although more than one of Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s 11 stations have been involved in the playoff competition over the years, Symmes has been the main champion of the fun contest.
He typically will get 40 firefighters from his agency to agree to shell out a few dollars each should their beloved team — either the Angels or Ducks — lose.
That money covers the cost of the T-shirts and shipping.
“Everyone starts watching the games and getting more into them,” said Symmes, who is prone to engaging in friendly trash talk via text with firefighters from the city whose team is facing one of Anaheim’s franchises.
This year, Ramirez played a key role in getting the Winnipeg Fire Department to participate in the T-shirt exchange since, in his union position, he knows many firefighters throughout the U.S. and Canada and knows people from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
So far, the Ducks are up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, with game four set for Wednesday at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
Will AF&R crews soon be donning T-shirts from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service?