RunningHub Staff

The three day Northern Ontario Regional Scott FireFit Championships, hosted by Bruce Power and Saugeen Shores, took place at the North Harbour parking lot in Port Elgin this Labour Day weekend.

The first Canadian National FireFit Competition was held in Vancouver in 1994 and has grown over the past 20 years. It visits every province in Canada and is known worldwide with competitors coming from all provinces and territories in Canada as well the United States, Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany and the Middle East.

The championships began on Friday, September 4 with an entertaining in-house regional FireFit Challenge showcasing teams from Bruce Power, Ripley and Saugeen Shores with the Bruce Power A Crew winning the final race against the Bruce Power B crew.

Saturday was serious business as it was about individual races, personal bests and qualifying for the FireFit Canadian National Championships, which will be held in Kitchener September 16 to 20. Over 100 firefighters from across the province and some who had traveled from further afield, went head-to-head.

“We have people from New Brunswick, people from Quebec and one girl who drove 22 hours to get here,” said Gary Smith, Bruce Power section manager of training for emergency protective services. Smith said that it had taken five hours to set up the FireFit course including one and a half hours to set up the tower. He praised the 50 to 60 volunteers who came to help with the competition each day.

Saugeen Shores Fire Chief, Phil Eagleson welcomed everyone to Saugeen Shores and thanked Bruce Power. “Bruce Power has been the most incredible corporate partner to our community and this is just one of the many events that they sponsor for us and we couldn't do it without them and the volunteers,” he said. “Takes a lot of work to put this event on.”

FireFit President, Dale McRoberts, explained the course that the firefighters had to run, which started with carrying a four foot bundle of hose weighing 42 pounds up 60 steps and six stories. “That's where the fire is. That simulates taking equipment up to the fire floor,” said McRoberts.

“They're wearing a bunker suit. The bunker suit weighs 20 pounds, they're breathing from a Scott air pack, that weighs 20 pounds. They're taking over 80 pounds up to the top of the building. Once they get up there they're going to pull up a roll of hose which weighs 45 pounds. That's simulating bringing more equipment up on a rope but firefighter gloves reduce your grip strength by half so that's like pulling 90 pounds to the top of that building,” he added.

McRoberts explained that once they come back down the stairs they simulate a forcible entry. “That's simulating chopping a hole in a roof to ventilate gasses, heat. For a firefighter one of the toughest jobs we have is chopping with an axe.”

The contestants then had to run 140 feet of serpentine around hydrants to get to a charged length of hose. “Now they're going to put the fire out,” said McRoberts. “They're going to run with the hose, they're going to open the nozzle knock down the target and then they're off to Rescue Randy.”

Rescue Randy is a rescue dummy that weighs 175 pounds. “That's the average weight of a North American male,” he explained. “They're going to drag him backwards 100 feet until they break the beam at the finish line and that is the FireFit championships course and it's a grueling event.”

“Real firefighters, dressed as at the scene of a fire, doing real firefighting tasks.”

Firefighter Ashley Hopkins of Clearview Fire Department was pleased with her race and said that this was only her second time in the FireFit championship, her first time being only two weeks ago at Wasaga Beach. “I went from seven minutes to 4:09 so I'm getting better,” she said, adding that they call it the toughest two minutes in sports. “You can train all day long and still with all your gear on and all this it doesn't even compare, it's crazy.”

Max Laframboise, a firefighter at the Barrie Fire Department who has been competing in both the Canadian Firefit championships and on the American circuit for five years said he had competed in between 20 and 25 races. “There's lots of room for improvement,” he said. “There are some departments that have the facilities like a tower to train on and they're generally the better teams. Everything on the ground you can kind of train for but you can't train unless you have that.”

The final heat of the day on Saturday featured Ian Van Reenen of the Point Edward Fire Department who went up against a full team. Dale McRoberts explained that Van Reenen's top time in the event was one minute 12 seconds. “He's in a class of his own. He's got a year under his belt and it's his 16th event. The team that he coaches will be relaying against him.”

Van Reenen won the day's individual event with a time of 01:16:15, with Louis Boiteau of the Hamilton Fire Department coming in second with a time of 01:23:18 and Ryan Hallam of the Fredericton Fire Department taking third with a time of 01:24:56.

Sunday saw the relay competitions with fire departments competing against each other. The final relay placed Lambton College against the County of Brant with Lambton College crossing the line first but after a penalty was taken into account, the County of Brant was declared the winner.

Check out our video HERE.HoseHammerDummy