It’s just that the firefighting equipment they carried — some of it decades older than the eldest retired firefighter among them — might not have been up to the task.
But the equipment was perfectly adequate for the Firemen’s Muster attended by about 100 fiestagoers Saturday, June 4.
The muster, which returned to the fiesta’s schedule following a five-year absence, is the Olympics of a bygone era of firefighting. Competitors, including both present and future firefighters, competed in drills using antiquated firefighting equipment and methods.
Jon Schali, a veteran Patterson fireman, said musters are more about fire crews bonding than showing off their skills.
“It’s a family thing,” he said. “We’re all here for fun.”
Three five-person teams from the area competed in two timed events.
Saturday’s competitions moved spectators backward through time, as crews began the festivities with a demonstration of one of the oldest forms of firefighting — the bucket brigade.
The object is for a team of five people working together, each with a bucket, to move 50 gallons of water 20 feet, hand over hand, from a trough known as a dip tank to a smaller tank called the dump tank.
The Patterson Fire Department’s Team One — firefighters David Joseph, Chris Vento, Stephen Hisaite, Lea Emmons and Chris Harr — did so in the shortest time (51.42 seconds) and was declared the winner.
In the water-ball challenge, each team directed a stream of water at a ball suspended on a cable, trying to push the ball over the opposing teams’ marker.
Teams consisted of a nozzle man, a backup and three other members to help with the hose.
At the signal, contestants opened their hose nozzles on straight stream and aimed the water at the ball. The event ended when the ball passed the designated point on the cable.
Again, Team One claimed the victory.
The West Stanislaus Explorers — Blaine Christiansen, Justin Ambrosino, Anthony Cordova, Ahmed Abdula and Frank Sylvia — finished second in the water-ball challenge.
“It felt good to be a part of this tradition,” Christiansen said. “We can hopefully keep (the muster) going and hopefully have it turn into one of the fiesta’s more popular events.”