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News :: Winning for ‘Superman’; state waterfight champ dedicates trophy to his dad
· 9:35am September 10th, 2013
After setting down the nozzle, and exchanging tearful hugs with his team and his wife, first-time State Waterfight Champion Josh Sinnwell of Nashua looked for a phone.
While standing in the middle of Fourth Street in Vinton on Saturday afternoon, Josh called the man that everyone in the Nashua firefighting family calls “Superman” – his father, Rick.
Rick Sinnwell is usually a member of Josh’s four-man waterfight team, helping carry the hose as Josh advances toward the empty barrel suspended to a cable above him, attempting to use the force of the water from his hose to force that barrel over his opponents’ head to the other end of the cable.
But on Saturday, Rick Sinnwell was in a place all too familiar to him and his family: The hospital. It’s been that way for the Sinnwell family since October 26, 2007. On that date, Rick, a long-time Nashua firefighter and former fire chief, was burned in an explosion that took place at his day job at the Cambrex plant in Charles City.
More than 90 percent of Rick’s body was burned in the fire that engulfed the room he was in, said Josh. Doctors expected him to die, telling his family that few people burned that badly can live.
“Now we call him ‘Superman,’ says Josh's wife, Heather. The Nashua Fire Department members wear shirts with the famous “S” worn by the super hero in the comic books and movies, along with red caps that replace the “s” in Nashua with that same logo.
Rick and Josh had just begun their waterfighting team in 2007, the year Rick was burned. Despite the severity of his injuries, Rick returned to the fire department, and to Josh’s team.
But this year, Rick became ill and was hospitalized a few days before the Iowa Firefighter’s Association Convention began. Josh called Rick after winning the state title – his first.
Josh had previously finished fourth, third and second, but never first, in his five previous Convention waterfighting competitions.
“I told my dad he had to stay with our team until we won a state title together – then he could retire,” said Josh.
The other three men on Josh’s team are Ian and Tom Johnson and Don Fisher. Ian, Tom’s son, is among the newest Nashua waterfight team members, and joined his father as he took Rick’s place on the team.
“Ian has seen first-hand how amazing our firefighter family is, and is interested in waterfighting like Josh,” says Heather.
Heather led the emotional celebration of Josh’s state championship, exchanging tearful hugs with the rest of the Nashua firefighting family members.
“It is a great feeling and one Josh has worked so hard for, for many years,” she said.
In addition to Josh’s state championship trophy and hand-made wooden plaque, the Sinnwells brought home two more trophies. Josh and Heather competed in the co-ed event on Thursday. Both advanced through their brackets until only two teams remained. Josh defeated Heather for the first-place trophy; Heather’s team earned second place. The couple carried their trophies and Josh’s plaque as they rode in the IFA parade on Saturday evening.
Josh’s partner in the co-ed event, which pairs a male and female from different departments, was Lindsey Wolf of Hills. Heather’s partner was Bob Seymour of Martensdale.
“They said they couldn't remember a time when a husband and wife fought against each other in the Co-Ed waterfights for 1st and 2nd place,” says Heather. “It was a blast -- a convention we will NEVER forget.”
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