Firefighters from across Canada and the U.S. will be in Greater Napanee Aug. 17-19 to take part in the toughest two minutes in sports known as the Eastern Ontario FireFit Championship.
Held at the Napanee Fairgrounds next Friday through Sunday, the event is a race against the clock featuring simulations of some of the tasks an emergency responder may encounter while on a call.
“You start out and go up six flights of stairs, a total of 60 stairs,” explains Dan Chalk, a member of the GNES Fire Services and FireFit competitor. “As you go up you’re wearing your full bunker gear and you’re on an air pack. You’re carrying a 45 pound hose pack. Once you get to the top of the stairs you place that hose pack in a bucket, then you’ve got to reach over and pull another 45 pound hose pack up vertically. Once that’s completed you come down the six flights of stairs and you’re on a force machine that they call the Keiser. It takes 300 pounds of force to move that. You have to move it a foot and a half. Once you complete that you run through the cones and you have to drag a charged hose line a total of 75 feet. It’s about 300 pounds total weight. It all culminates with a Rescue Randy drag, he’s 175 pounds and you’re dragging it about 100 feet.”
Chalk is one of 11 GNES firefighters who will take part in the event. They’ve spent the last several months undergoing rigorous training for the event, using the stairs at Strathcona Paper to simulate the first task. Members of Stone Mills and Loyalists’ fire departments will also take part, as well as individuals from every province across Canada as well as a handful of U.S. states.
Before the professionals take a turn however it’ll be the Corporate Challenge, which takes place on the Friday.
“Different businesses from the town and area will take part as a relay team to try and do the different tasks that we’ve set up,” said Chalk. “All the money from there will go towards our toy drive.”
The Corporate Challenge will get underway at 6 p.m.
Opening ceremonies for the main event will take place Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. before 180 individuals will run the course. On Sunday it’ll be the relay challenge. The top finishers at Napanee will have the option to advance to the national championship.
“In the morning the new people will take on the course, it might be a little slower because everyone’s just learning,” said Chalk. “By the end of the day the top people in the world will be running and they’ll complete this course in 1:20, 1:15.”
Each participant, regardless of age, size or gender, competes in the exact same course.
The event is free to spectators and along with providing plenty of entertainment, it also gives an inside look as to what an emergency responder may be called upon to do in a life or death situation.
“It really showcases what we do day to day,” said Chalk. “It emphasizes the physical part of the job people don’t always get to see.”
Along with the competition, there will also be a kids zone, 4H petting zoo, Napanee Beer Company tent and demonstrations by members of GNES fire services throughout the weekend.