THIS WEEKEND: Old-timey firefighting competition, parade in V.C.

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When the bells sounded the alarm of fire in the Virginia City of the 1870s, the town rallied with men pulling hose carts and hand-pumped fire engines along the steep streets. Within minutes, they would be working hard to pump the fire engines and put as much water on the fire as possible to keep it from spreading to other tinder-dry buildings.

A glimpse into that era of firefighting will come to Virginia City, on Aug. 15-16 as antique hand-pumped, steam-powered and motorized fire engines built between the early 1800s and the mid-1980s from throughout the West Coast gather on E Street to compete in the Muster on the Mountain.

The firemen's muster is free, and will be hosted by the Comstock Firemen's Museum/Liberty Engine Company No. 1, a non-profit organization that has hosted several musters in Virginia City since 1981.

This is also a competition sanctioned by the California Firemen's Muster Association (CFMA). For more information on the firemen's musters, visit the www.cali

The competition, a living history demonstration of the nation's fire heritage, is open to the public at no charge. Area fire departments are also welcome to compete in the parade, muster events, or to display their antique fire equipment during the weekend.

The weekend's activities will begin Aug. 15 with a parade on C Street at 9 a.m. followed by competition on E Street at about 10 a.m.

Events will include motorized fire apparatus competitions in seven hosewagon divisions based on the age of the fire equipment. This will be followed by hand-drawn hose cart races in the women's, open-vintage and over 40 divisions; hand pumped fire engines, hand or horse-drawn, with most dating between 1850-1900; and the men's bucket brigade contest demonstrating one of the oldest forms of firefighting.

A street dance will be held in the parking lot next to the Bucket of Blood Saturday night from 8 to 11 p.m.

Sunday's competition will start at 9 a.m. with steam fire engines pumping in a contest that includes a hose cart run demonstrating a fire response evolution; followed by motorized pumpers in divisions based on the age of the fire engine, vintage and men's hose cart races, and women's bucket brigades.

Children will be able to participate in some muster events on Saturday.

The Virginia Highlands Volunteer Fire Department will hold a pancake breakfast on E Street Saturday and Sunday from 7-9 a.m.

For more information, call Steve Frady at 813-6911.


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