BONNERS FERRY — A large crowd gathered to cheer on the firefighters in the seventh annual Firefighter Competition and Demonstration at noon on the Fourth of July. With Main Street blocked off in front of Mugsy’s Tavern and Grill, the firefighters meticulously laid out a series of hoses, stemming from a fire engine.
The aim of the hose competition was for a team of firefighters to work together to connect two hoses to the fire hydrant, to each other, and then to the nozzle, all before the water came through the hose. Then the nozzle man had to aim at a sign that he must knock down, stopping the clock. Any missed step resulted in a drenched firefighter.
The teams competing were Bonners Ferry Fire Department, North Bench Fire District, Kootenai Valley Forest Protective District (Idaho Department of Lands), and a combined team of Kootenai Valley and South Boundary Fire Protection District, who called themselves Kootenai Valley South.
The first part of the competition was a single evolution, which meant just one time through. All teams made a valiant effort, but Bonners Ferry Fire took the lead with a blazing time of 21.596. The next part was a double evolution, where they had to go through the whole first part, then disconnect the hoses and hook up a second set. Kootenai Valley South bested the round with a time of 38.738, almost 15 seconds faster than the next closest team.
The scores were tallied and Kootenai Valley South, the last minute combined team, came out on top, taking home the trophy as well as bragging rights.
“We went over that morning, first thing, to IDL at 8 a.m. to teach them how to do the hose competition because they had never ever done that, being wildland firefighters,” said South Boundary Fire Chief Tony Rohrwasser, a member of team Kootenai Valley South. “We trained there for a little while, then split up our teams and went to town.”
A new addition to the event was the beer barrel competition in which two teams competed with fire hoses to push a beer keg down a cable. They faced each other head on and both sprayed at the barrel, trying to drive it across the line.
There was much cheering from the spectators as the two teams battled back and forth until Bonners Ferry Fire won the first round. Kootenai Valley South took the second round, then faced off against Bonners Ferry Fire. It was a long struggle, but in the end, Bonners Ferry Fire prevailed.
“It’s fun,” said Becky Fessler, who was there with her family to support Bonners Ferry Fire. “We try to make it up every year.”