FUTENMA, Okinawa - Before the advent of sophisticated technology, buckets of water would be passed by a line of people to fight fires. This method was known as a “bucket brigade” and is rarely found these days except of course during firefighter rodeos.
This was the final and tie-breaking event during a friendly competition pitting teams from Ginowan City Fire Department, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, and Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Jan. 31 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
H&HS is part of MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. MWSS-172 is part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“This was an amazing and fun event organized by the Marines,” said Chinen Masaya, the rescue squad sub-leader for the Ginowan City Fire Department. “It is a rare opportunity to work with Marines, and we want to take advantage of that any chance it’s available.”
The event was an opportunity to further strengthen ties with the local community.
“We have an agreement with the (Ginowan City Fire Department) to work together whenever necessary,” said Chief Warrant Officer Timothy W. Killebrew, the fire and emergency services officer for H&HS. “This event was designed to help create a personal relationship with them in an attempt to further strengthen our ties with the city of Ginowan.”
Increasing the ties between the unit and the local community helps lay the foundation required to improve the relationship between the Marine Corps and the island of Okinawa, according to Killebrew.
The friendly competition helped fortify the rapport from both sides while testing each department in basic firefighting activities.
“Each event included some aspect of the job,” said Cpl. Edgardo Albor, an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist with H&HS. “The activities ranged in difficulty; some were as simple as how fast you can don your (protective clothing) while others required team cohesion or were a test of strength, such as (relay races) and the Keiser forcible entry sled.”
But the bucket brigade was the crowd favorite, according to Masaya, partially because it was the tie-breaking event, but also because it allowed for reflection on how the pioneers of the field performed their job.
After announcing the GCFD as the winners of the event, the Marines fired up the barbecue grill and spent some additional time getting to know their fellow Okinawa firefighters.
Both sides mentioned increased anticipation for the next meeting, both professionally and personally.
“I am looking forward to our next meeting,” said Masaya. “It would be a tremendous honor if we could arrange for the Marines to join us at the Ginowan fire station.”