It is a rivalry decades in the making, but as two high school teams took the field in Ipswich Thursday, there was something new at stake. A friendly football wager made between two fire departments could help save lives.
Before the matchup between Ipswich and Hamilton-Wenham, the fire chiefs from Ipswich and Hamilton made a bet. The stakes: 75 donated smoke detectors. Whoever’s team won would receive 50 of the smoke detectors and the loser would install some of them wearing the winning team’s jersey, while also receiving the other 25.
The smoke detectors were donated specifically for the wager by the smoke alarm manufacturer Kidde.
“It just gives us the opportunity to be able to get more smoke detectors for the program because they are getting costly,” Ipswich Fire Chief Andy Theriault said. “This is a great way to get free smoke detectors.”
The game itself appeared to be a blowout at half-time, but turned out to be a nail-biter at the end. As the clock ran out, the teams were tied, but in overtime Ipswich pulled out the win over Hamilton-Wenham. The final score was 22-20, meaning an Ipswich Tiger jersey will soon be on the way to the Hamilton chief.
“I’m ready. It was a great game just watching it,” Hamilton Fire Chief Philip Stevens said.
In a community where football is life, the chiefs say there is no better wager than one that saves lives. They plan to make the same bet next year and hope to see the idea spread to other fire departments.