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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Florida Weekend Celebration

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, July 09, 2006

Announcers kept spectators informed about the action at a July 9 Florida firemen's muster. View Slide Show
Florida - A bonfire, pig roast, dance, firemen's muster and other family focused activities proved just the ticket to a successful Florida Volunteer Fire Department Summer Celebration event held July 8 and 9.

"We did very well," said town fire department Chief Michael Bedini during a July 9 afternoon interview. "I think we had a couple hundred people here on Saturday night for the bonfire and we had dancing with DJ 'Simon Sez' [North Adams resident David Simon]. The pig roast was done and done well by Steve Brown. And we gave away six bicycles at the [children's] bike rodeo."

The festivities were held on River Road.


Members of the Florida Volunteer Fire Department "Rutabagors" muster team line up for a "Midnight Alarm" event.
Sunday's main event was a firemen's muster. Men's and women's muster teams from the town fire department, Hinsdale, Dalton, Whately, Lee, New Lebanon, N.Y., and the Bissellville muster team gathered to compete during firefighter games such as "Midnight Alarm" and various hose and pumping events. A water polo event was held on July 8.

Prior to the muster, Whately Fire Chief John Hannum was presented with a large, framed photograph taken at a house fire earlier this year. The photograph depicted Hannum and a dog that he rescued from the blaze. Photographer Ed Harvey of Connecticut, who snapped the photograph at the fire scene, presented the award.

Muster events allow firefighters to show off certain skills that are frequently used during firefighting. For example, "Midnight Alarm" requires several firefighters to dig through a pile of boots, coats, and helmets and dress themselves in the proper turnout gear as quickly as possible, as though a fire alarm had sounded. Events that involve hose often require the ability to direct a high-pressure water force to a specific target.

While the events were a male domain for many years, women's teams have competed at musters in recent years.

Allie Knight, 20, of the Unionville Muster team, also joined other teams when needed during the muster. Knight participated as part of the Florida "Rutabagors" women's team and as a member of two other teams. Knight is a student at Tunxis Community College and is employed at Little Mark's Big Barbecue in Avon, Conn.. She said she has been part of a muster team since 2000.

Joanne and Allie Knight are women's muster team members.


"It's fun," she said as she changed from Florida's bright orange team t-shirt into the darker blue shirt of another team."I've met a lot of cool people doing this."

Knight's mother Joanne is also a member of the Unionville women's muster team.


Whately muster team members "gear up" during "Midnight Alarm."
Fire department Capt. Michael Gleason and Assistant Treasurer Laurie Tuper organized the weekend event, Bedini said. Town resident Linda Trudeau worked with event sponsors, he said. Members of the town fire department operated a hot dog/hamburger concession throughout the celebration.

Bedini offered special thanks to those whose properties abut the event site, and the event site property owners. The Barkus family donated use of the property for the celebration. Abutters who cooperate with the event are Cindy and Ron Bosley, Barbara and James Newman, Cathy and Chris Gaspardi, Jill and Francis Jourdenais, and Margaret and "Sonny" Sucharzewski.

Florida firefighter Brad Furlon and junior firefighter Cheynne Waitt ready a hose nozzle in anticipation of a muster event.


Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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