Allouez firefighters take CC tournament

HANCOCK – Copper Country firefighters hauled buckets, changed hoses and raced with ladders to claim the top prize Saturday in the Copper Country Firefighters Tournament.

Allouez Township claimed the top spot in the tournament, hosted this year by Hancock.

Sixteen teams competed in four events: ladder race, hose roll, interchange and the “mystery event” – Bucket Brigade, which harkened back to the Hancock Fire Department’s 1860s roots.

Although they were keeping score, the atmosphere at the event was nothing but amiable, with other teams milling around and good-naturedly teasing the competitors.

“It’s a great time,” said Laari Wirtanen of the Hubbell Fire Department. “Everybody getting together. It’s fun to see the brothers.”

The interchange event, in which teams had to knock down orange cones amidst replacing a section of hose, was one of the wetter ones, with several errant hoses splashing people watching from the sides of the street.

The only ones getting soaked in the bucket brigade were the firefighters. Team members filled buckets from a tank, tossing their water down the line to the buckets of other team members. The final person deposited whatever made it down the line into a pail.

“This is going to be a fun one,” Wirtanen said upon hearing the description.

Jay Hebert started coming to the tournament nine years ago with the Pelkie Fire Department.

Now in his second year at Baraga, he was competing Saturday for the first time. After four events, he’d enjoyed them all.

“It’s a brotherhood, and it’s fun to compete against them,” he said.

The night concluded with a parade down Quincy Street, in which departments marched and also tried to outdo each other for the most creative floats.