By Spc. Michael Camacho 13th ESC public affairsMarch 23, 2010
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The Joint Base Balad Fire Department held the year's first fire muster, a joint-service competition, March 13 at JBB, Iraq.
The fire muster pitted teams from all branches of service against one another in games that simulated firefighter tasks and skills, said Spc. Clayton Williams Jr., a JBB firefighter with the 63rd Ordnance Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"It simulates the endurance that firefighters must have," said Williams, a Florence, Ky., native.
Firefighters train to save lives in fire emergencies, said Tech. Sgt. Jason Wallace, the assistant JBBFD fire chief of operations with the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron, 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, but the fire muster focused more on the physical training aspect of firefighting.
"(The fire muster is) a good, fun-filled competition between all the warriors here at JBB," he said.
The JBBFD regularly holds one or two fire musters each year for the JBB community, said Wallace, a Sparta, Tenn., native. The events focus on completing tasks in the shortest amount of time, to create the sense of urgency that firefighters feel.
"Everything about our job is time-sensitive," he said.
There were four team events: the drag and carry, the hose roll, the bucket brigade and the tug of war.
The drag and carry uses a dummy to simulate firefighters assisting people who would have difficulty moving in an emergency situation. The hose roll requires team work to properly roll out a hose, ready it and hit a target. The bucket brigade was inspired by firefighting techniques from the early 1800's, using buckets of water to put out a fire before the use of pumps and hoses. Finally, the tug of war has teams using fire hoses to spray a bucket suspended overhead on a cable and push it to their opponent's side.
Roughly 16 service members also competed in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, a separate, individual competition where each service member had to perform multiple firefighter tasks to complete an obstacle course.
First place for the Firefighter Combat Challenge for females was Spc. Tamara Boyle, a unit clerk with the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade and a Quincy, Ill., native.
First place for males was Sgt. Antoine Echols, a housing noncommissioned officer with the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade and a Blytheville, Ark., native.
Roughly 27 teams from the JBB community participated in the fire muster, said Williams. The five-member teams were coed.
The 63rd Ord. Co.'s team "Wolf Pack" took first place in the JBB-wide event.
"Wolf Pack" was the first Army team to win first place in the fire muster team event in two years at JBB, said 1st Sgt. Anthony Sheff, the senior enlisted adviser of the 63rd Ord. Co. and a member of the "Wolf Pack."
The 63rd entered three teams - "The Diesel," "Night Crew," and "Wolf Pack" - to compete in the fire muster, said Sheff, a Winston-Salem, N.C., native.
"We wanted to win not only for ourselves, but for the Army," he said.
Williams said the fire muster took three weeks to plan and coordinate, and approximately 5,000 gallons of water were used for the event.
He also said there was a strong turnout from the JBB community for the fire muster.
"Morale has been improved fivefold, easily," he said. "It's getting warmer outside and it's a good chance to cool off and have an overall fun time."