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Panama Guide

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Wednesday, September 18 2019 @ 03:53 pm EDT

Celebrating the 119th Anniversary of the Panama Fire Department

Safety & Security Every year Panama's fire department (or, the Cuerpo de Bomberos de Panama CBP) come together to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the first organized fire department in Panama City. Yesterday all of the permanent party and volunteer firemen in Panama assembled near the intersection of Ave. Cuba and Calle 28 in front of Fire Station #1, the Cuartel Ricardo Arango, to hold a skills competition and capabilities display for family, friends, and the general public. Members of the different units competed between themselves for honors and bragging rights. According to the Chief of the Panamanian Fire Department Coronel Mario Ramírez Puerta, "we really enjoy this day because it gives a chance for the firemen to show their families what they do...we like to get the families involved." Panama's Fire Department was organized on 18 November 1887.

A Hard Day for Buster: Part of the skills competition required firemen to rescue this mannequin from a simulated second story fire. Let's just say that some of the rope and sling techniques they were using left a little to be desired, and Buster had a pretty hard day.

Historical and Ceremonial Equipment: The firemen maintain this old truck at the firehouse and take it out for parades and celebrations. They assure me that it's in perfect working order and that they would not hesitate to press it into service in a pinch.

What's a Party Without Food: Funny how firemen are good at putting out fires, but this guy was having a hard time getting the BBQ going. All of the companies had tents set up where they were cooking, selling food and drinks, and to provide shade for the participants and their families.

Kids Love Fire Trucks: The fire department had materials for kids to teach them the basics of fire prevention and safety, things like coloring books and other stuff to get them interested. They already like the whole idea so they're a pretty receptive audience.

Discipline, Honor, Sacrifice: Actually, abnegation means "self sacrifice for the greater good." The firemen in Panama are among the most respected public servants in the entire country.

Can You Stand The Heat? If you think Panama's a hot place, you should try running this fire fighter's obstacle course in full gear under the afternoon sun. Teams of six members ran side-by-side for time, and had to crawl through tubes, over walls, erect a ladder and get up to the second floor, haul their gear with them, rescue a victim and get him back the starting point on a stretcher.

Poor Buster: The plan was to have the rescue teams tie a sling that would support the victim under his arms and knees, and then they gently lower him down to the waiting arms of the other firemen on the ground. That sounds alright until the under-arm sling slips off, and then WHAM, buster goes flinging into the supports, upside down, hanging by his knees. These guys would have a much easier time of it if they were using a High Rise Escape System to get Buster to the ground.

Fall In! At the end of the competition, all of the firemen formed up to hear the announcements and the Chiefs and Captains handed out the prizes and awards the both the individual and team winners in each category.

The Regular Guard Cleaned Up: No big surprise, really. These are the guys who live in the firehouse so it just makes sense that they are in better shape and know the equipment.

A New Generation: There is a great respect for the older guys who have been fighting fires for fifty years or more, and the young studs who can still run and jump were visibly thrilled for the recognition.

Fire's Out. Have an Atlas! A beer company sponsoring band uniforms? I'm shocked, I tell you (...urp), shocked!

The Percussion Section: Most of the fire companies have their own bands and they join together in the national parades and march as one.

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