A trio of Greater Napanee Emergency Services firefighters have earned the right to represent Napanee on the world stage later this month, following a third place finish at the regional Firefighter Combat Challenge, held Sept. 28 at the Virginia State Fair.
Kevin Duncan, Phil Lopes and Joe Thompson combined for a third place team finish in the individual run as well as a fourth place finish in the relay.
That placing earned them a spot in the World Firefighter Combat Challenge XXVII, which will be held the week of Oct. 22 in Sacramento, Cali.
“It was a very challenging course,” Lopes said of the Firefighter Combat Challenge, which follows a similar setup to that of the FireFit Challenge that was hosted in Napanee this summer. “A lot of elite guys make their way out there. It was something new for us. Challenging but nonetheless very fun. It was a great atmosphere.”
Like the course that was set up at the Napanee Fairgrounds, the Virginia course is designed to simulate some of the challenges a firefighter could encounter when responding to a call. That involves rushing up and down four flights of stairs in full bunker gear, hammering a solid metal block, running through a pylon obstacle course, dragging a hose, spraying a target and dragging a 170 pound dummy.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, the races are run in heats and the top teams advance to the next round to do it again. That meant Napanee’s team did a total of five runs in a span of an hour and a half.
“It was four times up and down the stairs,” said Thompson. “I looked at the guys and I couldn’t move, and they say ‘Napanee, you’re up next.’ I basically just got off the course and was walking back to the starting line.”
Duncan says the course was definitely more challenging than the run they ran in Napanee and required a lot more technical skill.
“The first time doing it I thought everyone did really well,” said Duncan. “We’re all kind of thinking the same thing now that we’ve done it once, we’d love to do it again because we can take a lot of time off. When you run something for the first time you’re learning it as you were running it and it’s hard.”
Their spot in the Worlds now secure, the team is seeking sponsorship to help cover their travel costs to California. Duncan says they plan to get t-shirts made up listing all their corporate sponsors and will wear them throughout the seven day championships, which will also be broadcast on ESPN.
Anyone looking to sponsor the team’s trip to the Worlds can call 613-354-3415 ext. 2225.