Firefighters love competition, and one of the enduring sporting events that evolved over the history of the fire service was hose cart racing. These events started in the 1800's in America, and continue to this day in firefighter musters. These races were often part of larger community events that might have also included competition with fire ladders, hand pumpers, and foot races between FD's.
The earliest examples of hose cart races in Marin and the North Bay Area can be found in the late 1800's. The oldest fire departments were the first competitors, including San Rafael (1874 formation), Sausalito (started circa 1893), Larkspur (started circa 1897), and San Anselmo (started circa 1900). To the north, the Petaluma FD (formed1857) and Healdsburg FD (formed circa 1858) often competed with the Marin and other fire departments in the region.
Think about that as far as communicating, planning, and logistics. Overcoming obstacles like few paved roads, no freeways, no cars or trucks, using railroad cars to transport the hose carts, and telephone service existing in only the early phases. To see there was competition spanning wide geographical areas is really amazing.
Thanks to retired Larkspur Chief William "Bill" Lellis for this great story on our local races, published under our Competition & Sports section.
The annual Marin County Fire Chiefs Association Installation Dinner is coming up on March 18 at Jason's in Greenbrae. What are the roots of this tradition?
In our case we can track the annual dinners back to the Marin County Association of Fire Departments, originally formed in 1929 and lasting until 1963. This group held annual dinners to install new officers, and to thank and recognize those who had served the Association in the previous year. The Marin County Fire Chiefs Association was formed when this group ended in 1963, and has continued the tradition. In parallel over the past 100+ years, many fire departments would also hold installation dinners for their volunteer and/or employee associations.
While the numbers have never been tracked, we believe these types of gatherings have been less in overall number over the past couple of decades, and falling. The reasons are many, including fewer fire associations in existence, and the greatly reduced number of volunteer firefighters in many communities. More career positions have been filled over the years, and it's now very common for those members to live out of the County, especially given the high cost of housing in Marin. This can reduce participation in social events outside of work.
Regardless, having a transitional ceremony, while gathering for a meal as a group, remains a key to having an effective volunteer group. Yes, the Marin County Fire Chiefs Association is voluntary and a 501(c)3, not a public agency. Participation is voluntary, including this 'no-host' dinner event. Forming good relationships is part of good leadership, and getting 'good things done' with these types of groups, and that's hard to do in formal meetings, or over Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail communications. Having an occasional meal and social event can go a long way in this regard. The ceremony of the 'changing of the guard' is also a welcome reminder of duties and obligations.
Today's events are much simpler affairs compared to the 'old days.' Read about the installation dinner for the MCAFDs held in 1955 as an example in this weeks new content, published as an addition to the MCAFDs page.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Bill Lellis & Paul Smith