By Mayor Charles Daniel
Recently, I participated in a local firefighter’s training exercise. Actually, it was more of a ‘friendly and fun’ challenge put forth by Mayor Bill Roehrich of Washington Township (Morris County), stating that Washington Township’s volunteer fire company, along with Mayor Roehrich’s participation, could defeat Califon’s volunteer fire company, joined by me, in a ‘barrel’ competition.
The ‘barrel fight’, as it is known, is a rigorous training exercise and friendly competition between local volunteer fire companies. It involves the ‘hosing’ of an empty aluminum barrel tethered on a cable fastened between two telephone poles, approximately 25 feet in the air and 30 yards apart. The firefighters (in teams of 3) compete by pushing the barrel in opposing directions with the force of the water coming from the hose. The team that moves the barrel to the opposing team’s telephone pole wins.
A few observations:
- The hose is heavy – the length of the hose, the water moving through it and the force at which the water leaves the hose can exhaust a person very quickly.
- It’s dark and you can’t see anything – the spray of the water into the air coming from both teams obstructs the view of the barrel, such that one has to rely on the sound of water hitting the empty barrel in order to aim correctly.
- It’s dangerous – remember those movies where the firefighters lose their grip on the hose and the hose acts like an uncontrollable whip? It’s true. The hose can seriously injure anyone in its path.
Califon’s participating firefighters – Rich Bergmann, Mike Pennucci, Jack Murray, and A.J. Ader – destroyed the competition, winning every event. Congratulations!
I take away from this exercise a deeper respect and admiration for the dedication and hard work our volunteer firefighters put forth to serve Califon. It is your commitment that keeps our community safe. And, because of their victory, Califon has earned local ‘bragging’ rights! Thanks guys!