IRON RIVER - The West Iron County Fire Department successfully retained its title as the overall winner in the annual U.P. Volunteer Firefighters' Tournament, which was held Friday and Saturday in Ironwood.
West Iron was the overall winner in 2011, and came in second place in both 2010 and 2009.
Chief Al Perlongo said that his department won the commercial parade, took second place in the shirt tail parade, and picked up two firsts, a second, and a third in the races.
Seventeen of the department's 28 volunteer members participated.
"I'm very proud of the guys and their families," said Perlongo. "They put in lots of hours - they practice a couple of nights a week - so they earn it."
Two other local fire departments placed in the top five: Florence came in fourth and Crystal Falls came in fifth. Second and third places went to Skandia-West Branch and Champion, respectively.
The U.P. Volunteer Firefighters' Tournament consists of three parades and five races.
During the dress parade, firefighters must wear their uniforms. The shirt tail parade and commercial parade can be a bit more comical and incorporate floats.
- The ladder race, in which five members of each department dress fully and run to a ladder, where four members will advance it to a designated area and secure it for the fifth member to climb. The climbing member must touch every rung on the ladder with a hand or a foot.
- The hose relay, which requires two members of each department to dress and transport a rolled hose from one designated spot to another.
Each member then tags a teammate to dress and bring the hose back to its starting position.
- The coupling race, in which five department members dress, then one member connects a hose to a fire hydrant, one member connects hose lengths one and two, one member connects hose lengths two and three, one member connects a nozzle to the end of the hose, and one member serves as a safety-man when the water is released. The team must then move a target out of a circle using water from the hose.
- The interchange race, which is similar to the coupling race, but includes a fourth hose length and moving two targets out of a circle.
- The mystery race, which is different each year and revealed to competitors just prior to its start.
The 2013 U.P. Volunteer Firefighters' Tournament will be held in L'Anse.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.