VWS is a volunteer organization that holds an indispensable position in the protection and rescue of the Cape Peninsula from wildfires. The men and women of this organization put life and limb on the line and do it all on a shoestring budget that they work tirelessly in the background to supplement via fundraisers like the one I attended recently.
The volunteer firefighters were in full attendance running all the stalls and activities and posing for pictures with hundreds of star-struck little people. It must be said that the day these guys put together was brilliant and they do it every year with just as much enthusiasm. There was a Huey helicopter collecting and then dropping water payloads on open flames. There were all manner of fire engines, old and new with sirens blaring and onboard visits aplenty. There were snakes too, that don’t have anything at all to do with volunteer firefighting but were very cool nonetheless and my little guys got to handle them – albeit a little tentatively. There were activities like tree climbing, zip-lining and firehose wrangling which I have to say was a big hit for my boys. The eldest took it upon himself to put out the imaginary fire on his mom with a real firehose, to the great amusement of the VWS team member helping him hold the hose.
It must be a genetic thing that boys of any age, who find themselves in charge of a hosepipe or indeed a water pistol or even a cup of water, will immediately turn it on their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and friends. It’s right there on the first page of the ‘being a boy’ manual.
The main event for the day was a Huey putting out a fire while a ground crew contained it. Hay bales were laid out and set alight. The Huey flew in and dropped off a team of ten or so firefighters to contain the fire while it then swooped over the small dam adjacent to the field where the fire had been set and filled it’s basket with five thousand liters of water. It circled the field once giving everyone reason enough to to readjust their hairdos and block their ears and then strafed the fire with the contents of the bucket with the accuracy of a blue brushstroke on a fiery red canvas. The Huey helicopter itself incidentally, was a veteran of the Vietnam War, commissioned and built in 1969 and deployed to Vietnam. After the war it was refurbished and has now ended up in active duty as a workhorse for the VWS, having I’m sure served in many other capacities between 1969 and now.
The day was rounded off perfectly for about a hundred and fifty children with a foam party on the field where the fires were started and then quenched. The sun was still high in the sky and it was warm so chattering of teeth was kept to a minimum. The foam erupted from the back of a VWS support vehicle and quickly engulfed the little people clambering around the truck, literally blanketing them in a deep foam.
Children immediately vanished under the whiteout only to reemerge several minutes later looking for all the world like snowmen, spluttering foam and stumbling zombie-like from a mosh. As an aside, I’ve been to a foam party in a nightclub (in another life) and while it is possible to breathe the foam, it’s not an especially pleasant thing to have to do. The little guys on the field didn’t seem to mind a whit though and scattered from and surged towards the source of the foam in waves and shrieks of joy. Every so often a nondescript child would pop out of the foam and request a face wipe with their respective parent. The parents, for their part could just as easily have been wiping the faces of primates from Borneo as their own children since there really was very little to distinguish your child from another after a while.
Cleanup time was a ten out of ten on the fun scale too. The children were all hosed down with a real firehose, operated by a real fireman. The water was arguably a little cold but that really didn’t seem to bother anyone. My boys had an absolute ball and were so played out at the end of the day that the little guy nodded off in the car on the way home. Proof positive of a good time.
I think next year I might bring a speedo with and dive right into the foam with the little guys. In so doing I will of course embarrass my wife and possibly even get hold of the firehose and do what I’m genetically programmed to do and spray her down with it.