In their off-duty time, many members of the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department participate in various activities. They have typically pursued softball, hockey, basketball, tennis, and golf—that is until now. A group of our firefighters recently formed a team to participate in a sport many of us probably never even heard of. Yep, that’s right; we now have our very own Flugtag Team! Flugtag, pronounced FLOO-TOG, means “flying day” in the German language.
Red Bull Flugtag is an event organized by Red Bull, in which competitors attempt to fly home-made, size and weight-limited human-powered flying machines. The machines are usually launched off a pier about 30 feet high into the sea, or some suitably sized reservoir of water. Teams that enter the Flugtag completion are judged in 3 categories—distance, creativity, and showmanship.
The National Red Bull Flugtag is scheduled for Saturday, September 21, 2013, and 1 of the 5 nationwide events will be held at the National Harbor. This is the first time for the event being in the National Capital Region. The Harbor’s event is in conjunction with 4 other Flugtags taking place in Miami, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Long Beach, CA. More than 1300 teams from all over the country applied to take part in this competition, but only 30 were selected from each city. TEAM PGFD is the only Fire/EMS Department themed entity to make the cut.
The event’s organizers stress “Safety First,” as does PGFD; and safe practices will be enforced. Each team’s members must wear a personal flotation device and helmet provided by Red Bull. All teams, along with their crafts, will be inspected prior to flight. If either a team or its craft fails the safety inspection, they will be grounded.
Each team consists of 5 members of the flight crew—a pilot who rides the craft into the water and 4 members who jettison the craft off of the flight deck. A great deal of assistance is needed with building the machine, marketing, selling T-shirts, and staffing the booth. Everyone is invited to come out and cheer on TEAM PGFD. An entry fee is applicable.
Sponsorships are also available, with all funds raised designated for TEAM PGFD’s selected charity, which is the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 1619 Burn Fund. Their goal is raise $5,000. To help meet that goal, a specially designed T-shirt will soon be available to purchase. Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor will allow the garment to be worn by all personnel as a “work shirt” for the month of September. Bashoor stated, “I’m allowing and encouraging our personnel to wear the Flugtag shirt while on duty, to demonstrate our support of this effort and ultimately generate funds for a worthwhile cause.” Additional information about the PGFD Flugtag shirts will be posted as soon as they are available for purchase.
TEAM PGFD consists of the five members: George Raburn is the driving force behind this project and the craft’s pilot. Clint Cardinale, Katie Johnson, Kevin Hodges, and Kevin and Christ Hodges are the crew.
In applying for the event, Fire Fighter George Raburn was asked what makes his team stand out or his craft design unique. He replied, “What better way to show off fire service pride than to design your craft to look like your department’s new fleet of fire apparatus, and then push it off the platform into Flugtag history? We just bought 2 ladder trucks, 5 engines (our design), and a new fleet of chief buggies. This was a big step toward ensuring safe apparatus for our firefighters. Company pride is a big part of the brotherhood for which we stand. Driving a new fire truck into the water and not having to pay for the damages… What firefighter wouldn't want to do that? The Flugtag being held in Prince George's County is a great way for our firefighter community to really be part of the event, instead of only providing fire and EMS services.”
There is plenty of work to do in a relatively short period of time. Any personnel interested in assisting TEAM PGFD are encouraged to contact Fire Fighter George Raburn at Fire/EMS Station 846, 301-883-7746, or vai email at GWRaburn@co.pg.md.us.
You may also follow TEAM PGFD on Twitter at @PGFDFlugtag.
For additional information on the Red Bill Flugtag, click here