Firefighters who gathered at the Van Nuys Airport Air National Guard facility Sunday for the annual state Championship Muster competition sported red suspenders, walked Dalmatians and showed off lots of well-muscled flesh. Crews from Eureka to San Diego came to see which department is best at traditional firefighting skills. Categories included attaching hoses to hydrants and dousing a fire with an old-fashioned bucket brigade.
Competition was intense but friendly at the muster, which attracted more than 5,000 spectators and participants Saturday and Sunday.
"Being a firefighter is more like being part of a fellowship than it is just having a job," said Walter J. Somaduroff , president of the Los Angeles Firemen's Relief Assn.
"You just don't find many people who have the odd desire to be helpful. So when you get a bunch of those kind of people together, they immediately become friends. It's hard to explain. We're just different," he said.
"The only other time you get to see these guys is when you are on the line, and then you just don't have the time to socialize," said Dave Castranon, a member of the La Verne Fire Department. "This is more like a family reunion than anything else."