Marine Corps

September 27, 2012

Yuma ARFF Marines cool off during fireman competition

Story by Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff
Photo by Cpl. Sean Dennison
Cpl. Thomas Blanchard, a Marine Corps AIr Station Yuma Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting assistant section leader and a native of Menomonie, Wis., lifts a bucket of water out to be transfered to another tub in the bucket race event during the ARFF Rodeo Competition at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 22. Several Yuma ARFF Marine competed in the event, the first held in a decade.

Several Marines with the station’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting section cooled off with some much-needed fun at Camp Pendleton, Calif., during an ARFF firemen muster, Sept. 22.

The Marines competed in the ARFF Rodeo Competition, the first one since 2002, with their firefighting brethren from Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, also based in California.

Marine firemen use the musters as opportunities to prove their mettle against different installations, showcasing their training during events that require stamina, speed and skill.

All three teams wasted no time heckling each other throughout the competition. The day saw Marines participate in five events: a gear race that had the Marines assemble their fire suits as quick as possible, a fireman’s carry race, a firehose drill, a barrel saw-cutting event, and finally a bucket race, where the Marines rotated buckets in and out of a tub of water to fill up an empty one.

“It gets our community together,” said Gunnery Sgt. Marcos Martinez, a MCAS Yuma ARFF section leader and a native of Holtville, Calif. “It lets us get off the air field, put work aside and, most importantly, network with the other ARFF guys.”

Being that ARFF is such a small field, less than 700 individuals, the rodeo also proved excellent for keeping in touch with peers Marines previously served with.

“It’s about the brotherhood within crash crew and the sections,” said Cpl. Edward York, a MCAS Yuma ARFF crew chief and a native of Detroit.

Though musters regularly occurred up the early 2000s, Operations Iraqi Free and Enduring Freedom stretched ARFF forces thin. Marines looking forward to an annual day of fun instead found themselves overseas safeguarding foreign flight lines.

“If (Marine Wing Support Squadron) 371 deployed, all (Fleet Assistance Program) Marines from station would have to deploy, so we might have to take others from Miramar,” explained Martinez.

Judges tallied up the points based on combined times of the events and penalties. Whoever had the lowest combined time emerged the winner.

The winner turned out to be Camp Pendleton, but Yuma’s ARFF Marines did not dwell on that.

“We got some good knowledge of the events,” said Cpl. Christopher Spykes, a MCAS Yuma ARFF rescueman and a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. “We had fun, and now we’re more prepared for the next muster.”

The firemen returned to the heat of Yuma in good spirits and higher expectations of themselves.

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