HANFORD — The Hanford Police Department is seeking vengeance against the Hanford Fire Department — all in the name of charity, of course.
The fourth annual Guns vs. Hoses charity basketball game, where police officers go head to head against firefighters, will take place Saturday, March 23, at Sierra Pacific High School.
Four years ago, Hanford PD approached Hanford Fire Department with the idea of playing in a basketball game to raise funds for the community, which the firefighters accepted.
The event continues to grow every year, with proceeds from the game ticket sales benefitting the Hanford Police Officers and the Hanford Firefighters associations. The funds go toward charitable causes like bicycle helmet giveaways, sports sponsorships or other community-oriented programs.
Hanford firefighter Gabe Martinez said last year’s funds went to recently-passed Kings County firefighter Keith Hernandez, who was battling cancer at the time.
This year, funds will be given to Ellice Blevins, said Hanford Police Sgt. Albert Cano.
Blevins, the assistant principal of Sierra Pacific High School, is battling stage 4 small intestinal cancer. The police department became aware of Blevins through the school’s School Resource Officer, Nancy Gallegos.
In turn, Blevins wants to start a scholarship for students in the Hanford district that have had cancer, are currently going through cancer or whose immediate family has gone through a cancer battle.
Cano said knowing who the teams are helping takes on a special meaning for the players. He said that’s the reason the game was started in the first place — to help people and give back to the community.
“We all know someone who has dealt with cancer,” Cano said. “It’s one of those things we wish we could just get rid of.”
Food and drinks will be sold and there will also be raffle prizes. Martinez said the raffle items were donated by companies, organizations and individuals from the community and include a “Thin Red Line” flag and “Thin Blue Line” flag.
Proceeds from the raffle items are added to the charity funds.
The fire department has won every year since the event’s inception, garnering a coveted three-peat last year. They’re definitely hoping for another win this year, but they’ll have to get through Hanford PD’s bolstered 13-man lineup first.
“I don’t know where we’re going to put the trophy,” Cano said confidently. “We’ve been nice enough to loan it to the fire department the last few years.”
Martinez said the fire department’s 12-man roster is mostly made up of veterans and a few newcomers, and he has faith in the team.
“None of us are really good, but we’re all about hustling,” Martinez said. “We have the right mindset.”
While the back-and-forth bantering and competition between the two departments is fun, both sides agree that the main goal is community involvement. Martinez said firefighters and police officers love interacting with the community and making a difference.
“We’re here to serve the community,” Martinez said. “We’re not just a face, we care about the citizens.”
Cano said it’s good for the community to see the officers and firefighters out of their uniforms and just having fun, while also raising money for a worthy cause.
“We’re hoping for a large crowd,” Cano said.