Fireman's Muster in McCloud is a fun event for those who fight together

Shareen Strauss

The 9th Annual Fireman's Muster on started Saturday with the traditional parade of fire engines, ambulances and other firefighting vehicles slowly cruising up Main Street in McCloud, tossing candy out to the delight of the children, most of them wearing plastic firefighter helmets that were being handed out.

Representative from Dunsmuir-Castella Fire Department, McCloud Forest Service Station from Ash Creek, Butte Valley Fire Department and McCloud Fire Department, including their explorers, participated.

They convened at Hoo Hoo Park for relays and games. Based on their scores from all the contests held throughout the day, McCloud Forest Service Station claimed first place for the second year in a row.

There was music by WildWoman Sound, free face painting, raffles, a silent auction, and vendor booths selling firefighter paraphernalia, T-shirts and hats, food and beer. A favorite is pies made by McCloud Fire Chief Steve Boone’s aunt, Lisa Cabitto. She baked 50 and sold out.

After the Muster, a dinner of tri tip and chicken was catered by Raymond Zanni, and there was dancing in the park.

Muster games test firefighters’ skills, team work and speed.

The first contest was the Hose Roll, in which competitors race each other to roll up a length of hose. The Midnight Alarm simulates a fire call in the middle of the night and, at the signal, competitors get up and run to their gear, which they must don before crossing the finish line.

The Barrel Roll is a favorite with the teams. They have to push a barrel 50 feet around an obstacle with only 150 feet of ½ inch fire hose with an adjustable fog nozzle under 100 psi pressure and nothing else.

In Make a Line, teams connect hoses and nozzles to make a line in a timed event, and the first to spray at the target wins.

Wet Extension is just that: the team of firefighters works together to crimp the hose to add 2 extensions of 100 feet of 2 ½ inch hose line while under 50 psi of pressure and spray water over 175 feet and between two cones.

The Bucket Brigade relay is how firefighters used to put out fires in the 1800s. Using 2 ½ gallon buckets, they take water from the dip tank and pass it along 20 feet to the dump tank.

The only penalty in these races is getting wet.

The last contest is a relay where they use their skills to don their gear, roll the fire hose and drag Randy, a 200+ pound 47-year-old unresponsive male mannequin to a gurney and carry it over the finish line.

The judges were McCloud Forest Service firefighter Heather McRae and McCloud volunteer firefighter Illa Garcia. The announcer was retired firefighter Jerry Hill.

Children played in the water tank and there were water fight between children and firefighters.

Hosting the Muster, Fire Chief Steve Boone of McCloud, said, “No matter what the station a firefighter is from, we are all brothers and sisters and we all fight together. I want to thank all the volunteers that helped put this all together, Raymond Zanni for cooking up the dinner and especially the community that came out to support us and had fun.”

The Muster is a fundraiser for the McCloud Volunteer Fire Department and is paramount as the department is going from Basic Life Support to Advance Life Support with a fully equipped ambulance, two paramedics and eight EMTs. The majority of their calls are medical emergencies. This year the department’s ambulance responded to 67 calls since January.

Mike Worthington, a 21-year veteran currently with the City of Oakland as an engineer firefighter, said, “It is typically very cost prohibitive for such a small department to be ALS. It is a first-class service for a small community.”