By Adam Prudhomme
Greater Napanee council voted to throw its firefighter’s hat in the ring to host the 2018 FireFit regional championship.
A sort of ‘Olympics’ for firefighters, FireFit competitions consist of a series of timed events that commonly occur in an emergency situation. They include tasks such as carrying a life-sized dummy down a flight of straights, smashing through wood with an axe and using a hose to dose flames, all while dressed in full fire combat gear in the middle of summer.
The gruelling test of endurance requires months of training and is also very popular among spectators. With competitors coming from across Ontario as well as their friends and family for the weekend festivities, the event could be a boon for the local economy.
Participants that place well in regional championships have the option to advance to the national champions.
Odds are good they’ll be successful in their bid to host the event, which would take place outside the Strathcona Paper Centre in August.
“I’ve been pretty much guaranteed it’s ours if we want it,” Greater Napanee Emergency Services Fire Prevention Officer Kevin Duncan told council.
Greater Napanee hosted the event for the first time in 2016. Deemed a success by participants and event organizers alike, Duncan says FireFit is eager to return.
“When we held it in 2016 we had 140 individual racers and 76 relay racers during that weekend,” said Duncan. “The only one out of 12 cities across the country that had more participants was Oshawa that year, so Napanee was put on the map for FireFit in 2016. We’ve had nothing but positive comments, everyone raved about how good it was in 2016.”
Duncan says the town likely could have hosted the event for a second straight year in 2017, but opted not to submit an application because local organizers and volunteers needed a break.
“In 2018 if it goes really well, we’re the front-runner to hold nationals in 2019 which is thousands of races with over 600 competitors,” said Duncan.
With council’s support behind them, GNES will now submit their application and should find out in the comings weeks if they were successful or not. The exact date of when the event hasn’t been finalized, though it would likely be mid- to late August.