Fireman's Muster a success

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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The inaugural Lincoln Fireman’s Muster kicked off Saturday with approximately 32 teams from all over Northern California gathering to compete in a host of competitions harkening back to the earliest days of the fire service. According to Kim Silva, vice president of the California Fireman’s Muster Association, the event was a success. “It was excellent,” Silva said. “We had a great time and a great turnout. We hope to get more of the public out there next year.” Silva said the 106-degree heat likely kept some spectators indoors, but Steve Art, economic and redevelopment manager for the city of Lincoln, said that about 2,000 came to watch the competitions. The festivities began Saturday morning with a parade of historic firefighting equipment, including a horse-drawn ladder wagon and a mule-drawn hose wagon from the turn of the century. “To me, it’s a big cruise-in of antique apparatus,” said John Schwartzler, an engineer with the Georgetown Fire Department and owner of the all-original hose wagon dating back to 1895. “Classic car groups have their cruise-ins, and this is our version of it. It’s fun because we can show the public a part of the firefighting life they don’t normally see.” The two animal-drawn apparatus are still used in races and were in the Rose Parade in Pasadena this past year. Capt. John Shalowitz of the Lincoln Fire Department said he thought the muster was going very well Saturday morning and was pleased with the turnout. “It’s good to see all the antique fire apparatus that showed up,” Shalowitz said, adding that of the various competitions, he likes the motorized hose cart the best. Driving a 1925 Kenosha pumper from the town of Murphy’s – in Calaveras County – Kristin Kovacs participated with her all-women’s team in the competitions. What does she enjoy most? “Just the friends from all over,” Kovacs said. “It’s like a big family.” While the serious competing was done by muster teams, the event is family-friendly, and kids got a chance to try their hands at knocking a target down with a fire hose. Peter Manley V, the 11-year-old son of Lincoln firefighter Peter Manley IV, enjoyed his shot at the target. “That was fun,” Manley said. “I’ve done it a couple of times, since my dad’s a firefighter. I think I might want to be something like a firefighter.” While his father is no stranger to pulling a hose line, the younger Manley said he wants to be a pilot of an air tanker, flying over wildfires to drop fire retardant. Spectators came to the event from Lincoln and nearby communities. Nancy Klippel of Pleasant Grove heard about the muster from a friend. Having competed in musters years ago with her husband and kids, she said she thought it would be a good idea to bring her grandchildren up here and show them. “I like the fire truck races,” said 6-year-old Emily Hale, one of Klippel’s grandchildren. Hale’s brother, 4-year-old Matthew Hale, said he enjoyed splashing in the water running through the gutter from all the fire hoses to keep cool. “I like that fire truck,” Matthew Hale said, pointing to one of the newer engines participating in the event. “It goes fast.” The event, while showcasing the fire service, also served to draw spectators to the historic downtown area, according to Steve Art, economic and redevelopment manager for the city of Lincoln. “It’s great to bring people to downtown,” Art said. “Not only is it fun, but it shows people what a great downtown it is. It’s one of the many good events we have here this year.” According to Lincoln firefighter John Ferry, one of the event organizers, the Fireman’s Muster will be back next year. “We’ve had a big turnout,” Ferry said. “We’re happy with it – there’s a lot of people and a lot of food. We’ll definitely bring it back next year. This is the first year, and we’ve learned a few things to make it even better for next year.” Updated at 11:38 p.m. July 22. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at