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Firefighters muster up friendly competition in Turlock Aug. 3
muster pic
Standing on Turlocks first pumper (right), with the fire bell in back, is caretaker William Thornburg. Beside him is Ed Osborn, the towns first fire chief. Firefighters will use antique equipment like the pumper pictured above at the annual Stanislaus County Fire Muster on Aug. 3 at the Turlock fairgrounds

When the alarm bells and whistles sounded to alert the community of a fire in the early 1900s, firefighters rallied by pulling carts and hand-pumped fire engines. A glimpse into that era of firefighting will come to the Turlock fairgrounds on Aug. 3 as dozens of firefighters gather with antique equipment for the purpose of competition at the 30th annual Stanislaus County Fire Muster.

“This competition promotes the history of how the fire department used to serve us back in the early days,” said Stanislaus County Firefighters Musters Association President Tony Douds.

This 200-year fire heritage tradition lives on as hundreds of firefighters utilize antique equipment and methods to race against the clock in a variety of events.

The muster events include bucket brigades, hand pumpers, hose carts, vintage fire trucks and steam pumping demonstrations.

“These friendly competitions can also get pretty competitive,” said Douds. “This year’s event is a state qualifier. There are two events that give our firefighters the opportunity to shine and compete in the state competition and get their hands on a state trophy.”

Qualifying firefighters will get their chance to compete at the State Championship Muster from Aug. 23-25 at the Lost Banos Fairgrounds.

“For the past couple of years we’ve had firefighters from Hughson and Keyes win statewide trophies,” said Douds. “I have no doubt I’ll see some of our men at the state competition.”

The musters have also come to develop friendships and camaraderie between the different fire departments.

“It establishes ties between teams and going out of their way to help each other out,” said Douds.”

The muster competition is free and open to the public and will be held at  9 a.m. Saturday at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, 900 N Broadway in Turlock.

 “The invitation is open to anyone to see a little bit of friendly competition,” said Douds.

— Nancy Angel /

The 209