Three months of intensive training is what Yukon firefighter have done to prepare themselves for the Scott FireFit Competition, the toughest two minutes in sport.
The Pacific Regional Competition, which takes place May 28-29th in Vernon, British Columbia, is a six component event that, in a sense, replicates a fire scene. So how does that look like in a competition? Boyd Pyper, fire chief of the Tagish Fire Department took the time to explain the competition.
“The first thing a firefighter does is, in full gear, run up the stairs of a 40 foot tower, with a 45-pound hose pack plus your gear and you’re on air,” Pyper says. The full gear alone weighs 30 pounds, he says. Add the hose pack and that’s carrying 75 pounds up those stairs.
Once at the top of the tower, you drop the hose pack.
“And then you hoist another hose on a rope, which is 45 pounds plus the weight of the rope. You hoist that arm after arm up the 40 feet,” Pyper says.
Once all of that is done, you run down the stairs – if you can – because this is normally the spot that they use to catch their breath. But there is not really time for them to catch their breath because the next component is waiting for them.
“Then you jump on what’s called a force machine. Basically, it’s a very large metal box weighing about 250 pounds. It sits on a metal plate. Take a sledgehammer, you bend over and pound that thing back, takes about 10 hits”, Pyper says. “After that, you run a quick obstacle course, 80 to 90 feet. Then you grab a fully charged hose, which is a 100-foot long hose filled with water and have to hit a target.
“And then you pick up Rescue Randy. That’s a 180-pound mannequin and you drag it 100 feet. And then you fall down,” Pyper says with a laugh. “Or you stand up and go, ‘Yes!’”
Pyper added that this is a very friendly competition.
“You’re not like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna beat this guy.’ No, you’re there, you’re doing it together as if you’re fighting a fire together.”
The regional competition in Vernon is a chance to qualify for the national championship, which takes place in Calgary in September.
They qualified last year, but they did not have sufficient funding to attend. This year they have a few more sponsors backing them, should they qualify.
Everyone has a different reason for why they are doing this competition.
“I very firmly believe that as a firefighter I need to be in the best shape possible for my crew and the public,” Pyper says. “Our first mantra is ‘Everybody Goes Home” So I need to be in a good as shape as possible.”
Tagish firefighter Myron Penner is a first-timer at the FireFit competition. He says training for the competition assists in the line of duty.
“(I do it) to be ready for any fire and not having to worry about getting tired halfway through your job.”
Penner’s inspiration are his three boys, who come with him as much as they can. A few years ago their house burned down and no one was able to go inside because they weren’t trained enough. Luckily everyone got out.
“So I’m making sure I’m trained up to par so there are no excuses,” Penner says.
The Yukon team continues to train for the upcoming FireFit competition, and if you would like to support them, mark your calendars for Saturday, May 21 at 10 am and come out to the Shipyards Park for the fundraiser. There will be a barbecue, car wash (depending on weather), kids treats and firefighters demonstrating what it takes to be a firefighter.