When The Heat Is On…

The weather was a scorcher – but the on-course action was just as hot in Otorohanga on Saturday.

Firefighters from as far afield as West Auckland and Taranaki converged for the Otorohanga Volunteer Fire Brigade Combat Challenge.

Competing across six categories based on age and experience, competitors wore full fire-fighting gear, including breathing apparatus while racing the clock.

Firefighters were challenged to complete tasks including climbing a four storey tower carrying a length of 70mm flaked hose weighing 19km, hoisting a 70mm hose coil those four storeys, using a 4kg to drive a beam 1.5 metres, extending a charged length of 45mm hose to knock down a disc and dragging a life sized dummy a distance of 30.5m.
Among others, there were open men’s and women’s categories for those aged between 18-39, a category for men over 40, a relay category and a tandem category.

Organiser of the day, Tony Russell – who has been a member of the Otorohanga brigade for seven years – described the day as “awesome”.

He said while the word combat was part of the event’s title, camaraderie was a better word to describe it.
“It’s the only sport I know of where you can race against a fellow firefighter and lose, but then that firefighter will turn around and offer you tips on how you can get faster.

“The beauty of it too, is that people of all experience levels were there competing – from firefighters who have the combat challenge world championships in the United States in their sights – to first time entrants who were just giving it a go.”

The tasks were designed to simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting to the public, he said, and the activities drew the crowds.

At any one time, there were up to 100 spectators taking in the action.

He said the day also provided the perfect preparation for the 2020 UFBA National Firefighter Combat Challenge which happen in Wellington in May.

Rose de Haan is all concentration as she completes one of the on-course tasks. Photo: Rounbush Photography

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