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Event Musters Fire Crews With Energy to Burn : Competition at Van Nuys Draws Best of State's Firefighting Experts

August 25, 1986|PAMELA MORELAND | Times Staff Writer

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."

While rival crews hooked hoses, pushed hand pumps and sprayed water at targets, aficionados of the firefighter mystique could buy any kind of trinket that set their hearts aflame. Scores of booths carried T-shirts emblazoned with everything from Smokey the Bear to the emergency telephone number 911.

There were coffee mugs shaped like fire hydrants, ceramic wind chimes in the shape of firefighters' helmets and audiotapes that tell the history of the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

Part of the money raised at the event will go to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, a nonprofit Canoga Park-based organization that works with victims of severe burns.

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