Fire Department Ceremony

At the beginning of January every year, fire departments across Japan hold their own performance-style ceremonies for the public to mark the beginning of the New Year.  The ceremony is often called dezome-shiki, and involves displays of acrobatic feats on ladders, parades of the fire department’s equipment, emergency practice drills, and more.  The event has been held in Japan since the early 1600s.

Naturally, Zamami Village holds its own ceremony every year.  However, Zamami Village lacks an official fire department.  Instead, all male village-office employees are serve as firemen in the case of an emergency.  What the ceremony here might lack in scale, it certainly makes up for in spirit.

The 2016 ceremony began with a parade of the two emergency vehicles to the port–a firetruck and an ambulance.  Just as a side note, individuals with serious medical emergencies are flown to Naha City by means of medical-evacuation helicopter.  Upon arriving at the Ferry Zamami berth, the firemen lined up to perform marching drills.  Wide eyed and donning colorful caps, the preschool children took in the spectacle from the sidelines.

line up

Following the set of marching drills, both the mayor and the fire chief gave their respective addresses to the crew and crowd.  At that point, the more senior employees retired to the crowd themselves as the new employees nervously took the spotlight.  With the urgency of a real emergency, the young firemen drove a lap around the port parking lot before returning to the berth.

roll out

The greenhorn crew hopped out of the truck and rolled the fire hose out in front of the crowd.  With a chorus of quips from the senior-employee peanut gallery, they jammed the ends of the hose lengths together just in time for a torrent of water to blow through the hose and out the end.  The newest employee manned the end of the hose, and for a few minutes, was the center of attention and a hero for the little preschoolers in attendance.

preschoolers watch

All villagers and visitors alike can rest assured that a brigade of able-bodied rescuers will rush to their aid in the case of any kind of emergency.

hero

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