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.
Our Blog announces new site content, and gives the context of the topic and it's relationship to fire service history. Written by Tom Forster.