By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Haley
SASEBO, Japan (Jan. 12, 2016) - Firefighters assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department at Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo joined their Japanese counterparts during firefighter New Year’s celebrations and parades in Sasebo City, Jan. 6, and Saikai City, Jan. 8.
The event, Dezome-shiki, is an ancient Japanese firefighter tradition.
It dates back to Japan’s Edo period and is held annually throughout the country as part of a New Year celebration showcasing the capabilities and community loyalty of local fire departments. CFAS firefighters have participated in the local Dezome-shikis for the last 15 years.
“I am confident that the Japanese noticed the pride and professionalism of our firefighters. I am also hopeful that the Japanese citizens understand that we will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight fires and to keep the entire population safe,” said CFAS Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Ovios. “CFAS has mutual aid agreements with both Sasebo and Saikai cities. In the event of a large fire or emergency, if they need assistance we will provide it, and they will do the same for us. Events like the Dezome-shiki demonstrate our shared commitment to fire safety as well as to each other.”
City officials also use the Dezome-shiki to recognize retired firefighters for years of dedicated service as well as the volunteers that support and make up the Fire Services Brigade. The Dezome-shiki varies in detail from city to city. Tokyo’s is known for its acrobatic feats and in Sasebo City firefighters gave a riverside performance demonstrating their firefighting capabilities and hose handling while other firefighters gave a traditional performance with banners atop fire trucks.
“It’s a tradition that dates back many years and I am proud to support my community and show the city fire departments we are there to support them,” Said Drill Master Naoto Hashiguchi, a CFAS firefighter. “Relations have changed over the years and gotten stronger, training has become more important, working together and understanding each other’s capabilities has improved tremendously over the 12 years I have worked as a CFAS firefighter.”
A combined total of over 1300 city firefighters participated in support of the event for this New Year. Locally, more than 1700 volunteer and 350 full-time firefighters spread across 60 fire houses protect CFAS, Saikai and Sasebo cities.