Edgartown firefighters won Sunday’s annual Dukes County Firefighters’ Muster held in Oak Bluffs. Close to 100 firefighters and their friends participated in four competitive events that demonstrated skill and speed.
This is the second year in a row that Edgartown won. All Vineyard towns participated in the muster, and were joined by teams from Carver and Swansea in the muster’s firefighting event.
The muster was held at the Dennis P. Alley Park, formerly Waban Park, followed a parade of noisy fire trucks on Circuit avenue. The parade began at 10:30. The trucks rode into the park at about 11 a.m. loaded with firemen dressed in colorful, bright T-shirts. West Tisbury firemen wore red T-shirts that were the color of their truck.
As a backdrop, three down-Island tower fire trucks were parked with their ladders fully extended high into the air. Standing tall like metal dinosaurs, each truck displayed an American flag at the top, blowing high overhead in the breeze. And there was plenty of breeze.
The first of the events was the Midnight Alarm. The drill requires firemen to rush through a number of feats to win. The team finishing the quickest leads.
The event started with each fireman reclining on a cot with only shorts and a T-shirt on.
Responding to the sound of a loud air horn, the firemen were required to quickly get fully clothed in their firefighting gear. After getting the go-ahead from a team leader, they rushed to their mission of putting a hose on the ground and shooting water to knock a soccer ball off the top of an upright pillar. Adding to the difficulty, members of the team were also required to race and carry a heavy dummy in an escape stretcher across a finish line.
Edgartown, which completed the event in 60.5 seconds, won. Second place went to the Oak Bluffs team which completed the feat in 66.5 seconds. Tisbury and a team made up of Chilmark and Aquinnah firefighters tied for third place, completing the event in 69 seconds.
Edgartown and Tisbury teams tied for first place in the Confined Space Rescue.
Oak Bluffs won the Fire Truck competition, the third event.
Edgartown’s low total score made them a winner. Edgartown finished the three events with a score of 149.5. Tisbury, which years ago would win the muster consistently, came in second with 157. Oak Bluffs came in third with 161.
Sam Koohy, a captain with Engine 1 for Edgartown, said his team didn’t even practice for the muster.
“But I guess if I had to say something, we work really well as a team,” Mr. Koohy said. “The whole department works well. It isn’t just one guy.”
Mr. Koohy said the muster team was made up from a cross section of firefighters with the Edgartown volunteer fire department. Members include the leadership and the firemen. Team members included Scott Ellis, assistant chief; Alex Schaeffer, deputy chief; and Andy Kelly, Don O’Shaughnessy, Kevin Maciel, Frank Williams, Henry Parent, Rick Mansfield, Asa Vought, Jake Sylvia, Mike Klimek, Kara Shemeth and Michael Brown.
Deputy Chief Schaeffer said the firemen within the department train every Monday night from 7 p.m. to as late as 11 p.m. “The training they do throughout the year really improves their confidence at events like this,” Mr. Schaeffer said.
The afternoon event was colored by the hot mostly sunny day. Children gathered along the edge of the event and called out “water, water, water.” Occasionally they got drenched from the water shot out from the hose.
Master of ceremonies Jeffrey Pratt of Tisbury provided recorded music during the event. His commentary got a boost when up-Island summer celebrity Lenny Clark joined in a conversation at the start of the event. Mr. Clark, a member of the television program Rescue Me, is a humorist and added to the entertainment.
Mr. Pratt said that Edgartown won the competitions not only for being fast but also through with few or no penalties. The difference between first and second place was a total of 11 seconds.
Retired Oak Bluffs assistant fire chief Jimmy Moreis and members of his family kept the grill going, making hamburgers and hot dogs.
Mr. Pratt discovered quite a few firefighters were in the audience, including visitors from Las Vegas, San Diego, New Bedford and Quincy.
A final competition, not counted as part of the regular scoring, was a ladies-only event. West Tisbury won with 55 seconds. Oak Bluffs came in second with 69 seconds and Carver came in third with 73 seconds.
Carver received the muster’s sportsmanship award. Swansea firefighters were also well received.
The muster broke in the afternoon and the firemen reconvened for a meal at the American Legion Hall in Vineyard Haven, hosted by the Tisbury Rescue Squad.