NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Firefighters from across the Upper Peninsula are joining together this weekend in some friendly competition. Friday night was the start of the 128th annual Firefighters Tournament. This year’s tournament is hosted by the Negaunee Fire Department with the theme “Back to Our Roots”.
The event’s goal is to create more awareness about working as a first responder. Even though the tournament’s been around 128 years, Negaunee firefighter, Mason Tompkins, said volunteering and applications are down. “We’re really trying to kick things back to where it used to be really get back to the basics and back to our roots trying to get the tournament as a whole back to where it used to be,” commented Tompkins.
This weekend, firefighters will compete for trophies and other prizes in timed ladder races, a dress parade, and a shirt-tail parade which will all accumulate to their ending score. The event brings friendly competition to the mix, but some commented that firefighter history brought its A-Game too. “It’s been with our department for a very long time and the pump actually still works on it,” continued Tompkins.
Pictured is a 1923 La France World War II victory truck and it might seem like a timepiece now, but during WWII this was made to protect any first responders if they were caught in a bombed area. “It’s all steel, iron, which was rare at the time because of the war you weren’t allowed to get most of these materials due to rationing, but you can see back here we’ve got the hose bed the hookups that they use the hose reel. This was all pretty much state of the art at the time and like I said it was built like a tank,” said Negaunee Firefighter Brian Downing.
A lot of these UP fire departments have been around for over 100 years and this tournament is a way to celebrate and appreciate the sacrifice from first responders.
“We have a good time but we also want people to know that we gotta keep the tradition going”
The tournament races do continue through the weekend, starting with the classic commercial fire truck parade starting at 10 am.
Click here, for more details on the weekend’s events.