It’s time for a Fireman’s Muster!

On April 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be a gathering of all sorts of people connected to fire prevention and suppression, at the Idyllwild Community Center site on Highway 243 and Ridgeview Drive across from the Shell Station.

The day is dedicated to providing fire information and fun for the community. A Fireman’s Muster is traditionally an event designed to build camaraderie among fire departments, but in our case it is designed for the community at-large, and to bring residents and visitors the latest in fire prevention, in as fun a way as possible.

This is an event kids will love. There will be lots of fire fighters, fire engines, fire fighting gear and games. Last year I watched these fire fighters relate to children at the Idyllwild School and they were terrific. I am sure they will bring the same warmth and spirit to their interactions with children this year.

There will be a hose lay and the great Ball on a Wire competition. Several antique fire engines, as well as modern ones, will be present. And a great dog — the U.S. Forest Service K-9 Unit — will be there for a demonstration. As we all know, nothing beats a great dog for grabbing the kids’ attention.

New this year is a booth that will allow parents and their children to saw a piece of cedar off a log and then to brand it with the logo of Smokey Bear (who will be there in person, by the way).

Now I admit I have not seen this myself, but several veterans of these events claim this is always the most popular of activities, with children willing to wait in long lines to get their Smokey badge.

This Muster is a collaboration of many groups and agencies: Idyllwild Fire, CAL FIRE, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Riverside County Office of Emergency Services, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Mountain Communities Patrol, the Rotary Club, and more.

As usual, these groups have been very generous and public spirited in bringing all this together. And of course, the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council will have a booth to provide information about making one’s property fire safe and in compliance with fire codes.

Any fire related question that you have should be answered by the many experts attending, whether it be a particular question about the public resources code or about new materials for making houses fire resistant. We hold the Muster in spring to remind everyone of the approaching fire season and what we all need to do to be ready.

This was not a good winter for moisture, so we should not delay in our preparations. A reminder of the dryness is the fire that burned last week west of Denver. More than 4,100 acres were burned and 900 homes had to be evacuated. The front range of the Rockies is usually not a fire hazard in early spring, but last week it took 500 fire fighters to contain a fire that caused three fatalities and destroyed 27 homes. The risk of wildfire is just not something we can ignore till the late summer.

So we hope that you will come down to the center of town on the 28th and enjoy the activities. We can almost guarantee that children will have fun, and everyone who comes will learn something useful.