St. John the Baptist Parish’s Bravest are also state’s best

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017

LAPLACE — Firefighting is all about teamwork. Sometimes it’s about winning, too.

For the fourth year in a row, the St. John the Baptist Parish Office of Fire Services won the annual Louisiana State Fireman’s Association Competitive Drills held recently in DeSoto Parish.

The St. John team of Cameron Buccola, William Parker, Travis Etie and Michael Moscona beat out three other teams in timed drills to successfully defend their title and bring home their fourth first place trophy in six years.

Michael Philpott is the alternate, who did not compete this year.

Louisiana State Firemen’s Association 1st Vice President Charles Metcalf, far left, stands with St. John firefighters William Parker, Michael Moscona, Travis Etie and Cameron Buccola.

It’s not just firemen games.

“It’s real life drills, things that you do day in and day out on a fire scene that they incorporate into a timed event,” Moscona said.

This year the team competed in six drills, including rolling hoses, deploying hoses, hooking up monitors, establishing water supply, dummy drag, a two-minute suit-up drill and a “the sled,” which involves a 175-pound weight.

“It’s kind of hard to explain,” said Buccola, a 12-year veteran firefighter and team captain.

All together, it means the St. John Parish fire services department is one to be proud of.

“We’re good at what we do,” Buccola said. “We’re committed and dedicated to what we do as a team.”

St. John Fire Chief of Operations Cain Dufrene said the award and the win streak reflects well on his department.

“I am extremely proud of our guys in achieving this goal for the fourth year in a row,” he said. “This accomplishment shows that our personnel are equipped with the skills necessary to respond as a team and perform the tasks needed to protect the public when emergencies arise.”

Parish President Natalie Robottom congratulated the team saying, “To win this award once or twice would be great, but four years in a row should make everyone proud that they are on our team.”

Moscona, a 12-year veteran firefighter, said there is a great deal of pride involved in winning the event year after year.

“It shows our commitment to the fire service and the brotherhood,” he said.

“We are ready to do it tomorrow. That’s because we incorporate a lot of the same drills, or a lot of the same skills into our every day training we’re required to and we want to do. It’s a lot of our skills that we do day in and day out and we’ve seen, so we’ve come up with new techniques of doing it.”

Besides the competition, Moscona said the annual event is a teaching and learning opportunity.

“The guys will watch us from the other departments because we stay current on the new way to do things,” he said.

“They’re looking at our ways of doing it. We’re looking at their ways of doing it and see what works best throughout the whole competition. If we find something new as a drill that worked, we’ll come back here and show the other 42 guys. It works out pretty good.”

While the event naturally brings out the competitive nature among the men representing St. John, it also is a chance to form bonds.

When the team from Livingston was disqualified when one of its members was injured, St. John stepped in to help.

“They got disqualified from the competition, but Mike asked them if they wanted to finish the drill so they could say they finished,” Buccola explained.

“He and Travis stepped up and helped the team out to finish the drill.”

As in just about everything they do, the St. John men stepped up in honor of their late district chief, Spencer Chauvin, who was killed while working a wreck on the Interstate last year.

“We want to encourage that brotherhood,” Moscona said. “That’s what we do. That’s the ‘Spencer way.’”