Firefighter Explorers to Brave Scorching Heat to Compete for Top Honors

RIVERSIDE – Dozens of aspiring firefighters from throughout the Inland Empire will endure today’s extreme heat to compete in a contest meant to test participants’ strength, stamina and team spirit.

The Inland Empire Firefighter Explorers’ Association’s fourth annual “Fire Muster” is slated for 9 a.m. at Arlington Heights Sports Park in Riverside.

Two-dozen teams, numbering more than 100 contestants, from departments in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, will be on hand, according to Riverside Fire Department Capt. Tim Odebralski

The explorers, whose ages range from 14 to 21, will square off for a chance to claim the 2017 IEFEA Trophy — and the “bragging rights” that come with it, Odebralski said.

For the last three years, the Riverside Fire Department’s explorers have reigned supreme, he said.

About 500 spectators are expected and will have an opportunity to see the  young men and women test their physical and mental toughness in three primary events — the “bucket brigade,” the “make-or-break” and the “water-ball.”

In the first event, teams form a line to — as expeditiously as possible– haul 50 gallons of water in buckets to a storage tank that pumps water onto a fire, similar to the techniques used in the 1850s, according to Odebralski.

In the make-or-break event, teams are required to move a 150-foot hose as quickly as possible to the location of a fire, hooking onto a hydrant, then stringing the line until it can be aimed at the mini blaze.

The “water-ball” contest pits two teams against one another, using high-pressure hoses to move a weighted ball from one side of a 150-foot platform to another. Each team is positioned on either side of the platform, according to Odebralski.

He described it as a “tug-of-war,” but emphasized that participants are clad in protective gear, and any spray directed at contestants is counted against the offending team and can result in disqualification.

The three-hour competition is free and open to the public.

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