Lindsay Volunteer Firefighters take a first in Atascadero Muster

By Carolyn Barbre

In their second year of competition, the men's team of the Lindsay Volunteer Firefighters took first place in the motorized pumper division at the Atascadero Firefighters Muster on the weekend of June 19-20.

Last year they made it to the State Championships in Tulare where they took fourth in the bucket brigade.

Because a women's auxiliary has been formed to complement the volunteer firefighters, this year they were able to put together a women's team which took second in the motorized pumper division at Atascadero. Renee Franks, who heads up the auxiliary, said the men and women had been practicing the motorized pumper event for the last couple of months.

In the motorized pumper event six team members sit on a bench as if they were in a firehouse. When the alarm rings the team members run to their rig and respond as if going to a fire. Along the 300 foot course, after passing a hydrant, a hose lay is made. The engine and remaining crew members continue down the street.

When the engine stops, as if in front of a burning building, additional hose connections are made, and the line laid from the hydrant is "charged" or filled with water. A target is knocked down as if aiming at the source of the fire with the hose stream. When the target is down, the time stops.

Obviously the practice paid off. Atascadero was the first muster in which Lindsay competed this year. They will be going to the sanctioned muster at Diamond Springs in July. Then it's on to this year's championships.

Franks said they may try and brush up on their bucket brigade. The Atascadero event was their first effort, with no previous practice.

"We saw them doing it and said how hard can it be. It looks like something that would be easy, but it's really not, because you have to get the rhythm down," Franks said. In the Bucket Brigade a team of five must move 50 gallons of water from one trough to another 20 feet away. One gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds, times 50 that is more than 400 pounds. That 400 plus pounds of water is passed by at arms' length in less than a minute if you want to win - not much time to get the rhythm down. And it has to be done so the water doesn't spill. The teams didn't place, but Franks said they were pretty happy with what they did do.

"We were not expecting those things to be so heavy. You can't cross your arms at all, and almost always have two buckets in your hand." She said they got bruised and wet, but had a blast.

"I've got to tell you, the department, auxiliary and the whole group is such a big family. We spend time together outside of actual work for the fire department. We're all friends and very close." Franks said they are always looking for auxiliary and volunteer members. "We can have a and b teams - as many people as we can get."

"It was a real good experience," said volunteer firefighter engineer Harl Buckridge. "We went last year and they were real welcoming to us. This year, coming back for our first actual year of competition, they were real welcoming and real supportive." He said it was great to compete and bring home a couple of trophies.

The big news on the horizon is that the Lindsay volunteer firefighters and auxiliary will be hosting a muster in City Park in July 2005. To bring off the event takes about a year's preparation. Sponsors are being sought. For more information contact the auxiliary at 756-1639.

FYI:<$> Musters are where teams of volunteer firefighters from stations throughout the state compete against one another in timed events, usually during the summertime. There are "fun musters" and sanctioned musters. In addition to motorized pumping and bucket brigades, other events include hand and horse drawn pumpers, hosecarts and steamers. Teams must compete in at least two sanctioned musters to be eligible to compete for the championship. State championships are an annual event and are rotated between Northern Central and Southern California regions. Tulare County is considered in the Southern region. The 2004 championship host city is Clovis, which is considered the central region. The weekend events include dinners, dancing, camping, etc. with accompanying vendors and children's activities.

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