Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fire Muster

A fire muster is a fire department competition consisting of several different events from a dummy drag, putting out a "fire" using a bucket brigade, rolling up a hose, and spraying a hose at a target. All of the activities resemble training the firefighters use to keep their lifesaving skills sharp. Each challenge is just a sample of the complex and vital job for firefighters and first responders. Basically, the events gave us non-firefighters an opportunity to walk in their shoes. The team event included 24 five-people teams from across the base competing in four challenges against each other. All this took place on a Sunday morning, 9 August.

I was on a team with the wing's lead lawyer (Josh), two people from his staff (Jim and Kat), and the wing's Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (Vanessa). All of us had to participate in each event. The first one was a series of different firefighter carries. We started with Vanessa using the fireman's carry to carry me the length of the basketball court. She then set me down and we switched. I only got a few steps before I fell flat on my face and dropped Vanessa on her behind. Thankfully she was very understanding. I was incredibly embarassed. We got back up but lost valuable time. Not surprising, we were in last after the first event.

It was an intense competition, Jim is really into it.

Next was the bucket brigade. We had to put our bucket in a pool, run over to a wooden house, and throw the water on top of the house. A tube in the house poured the water into a large trash can next to the house. We had to run back and forth until the trash can was about 2/3 full. I think I redeemed myself for the earlier fall. So if you ever need someone for a bucket brigade, I'm your man. Our team did much better in that event, 9th place and we moved up to the middle of the pack overall.

Josh and Kat leading the way, look at my form rolling out the hose!

Next event required rolling out two firehoses the length of the basketball court, connecting them together and to a water supply, and then spraying the wooden house until a softball popped out the top. I thought we did pretty well, but we ended up near the bottom.

Josh looks like a pro on the firehose and Kat looks like she is hanging on for dear life.

Josh is on the hose and I'm second, trust me.

The last event was called "tug of war" but it was actually two teams facing off against each other with firehoses. The teams both sprayed at a target on a rope over the court, the object being to push the target past the other team's line. It was a best two out of three. Those hoses put out a lot of water and it was impossible to see anything. We got spanked twice. Overall, we ended up tied for third from the bottom. Oh well, I had a blast and look forward to doing it again while I'm here.

The happy, albeit soaked, team.

My fellow blogger, Jake, also participated in the team event with his coworkers. He was manning the hose for his team for the "tug of war" competition. He was incredible and they just blew people away. Unfortunately, they ran out of water or else I'm sure Jake and his team would have won that event.

There was also an individual competition called the Firefighter's Challenge. It is known as the toughest 2 minutes in firefighting. I wish I had signed up for it but I was a scaredy cat. It was basically an obstacle course. The course was carrying a "hotel pack", a firehose folded up and tied down, the length of the basketball court and then back through a set of cones...pulling on a rope tied to a rolled up firehose at the far end of the basketball court until you pulled the hose to you...using a sledgehammer to hit a large tire with a sandbag in it along and then off a 6-foot long bench...running the length of the court and dragging back a firehose; after getting to the free-throw line, turning on the hose and spraying a ball off the top of a cone...climbing up and down a 15-foot ladder three times...and finally dragging a 180-pound dummy the length of the court. Whew! It was a lot of fun to watch. There were men's and women's competitions and a team competition between the senior officers in the wing versus the senior enlisted of the wing. Vanessa, the women I dropped, took third place in the women's competition. She definitely could kick my butt, so I'm glad she didn't after I dropped her on hers. This is a picture of her doing the dummy drag. The guys around her are spotters so that she doesn't fall. She did an amazing job!

All in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday and fun to do something different. It certainly helped me appreciate what firefighters have to go through.

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