On a weekend that saw the weather swing from blazing heat to torrential downpours and back again, the fire crews taking part in Point Edward’s Scott FireFit Challenge had to draw upon all their intensive training and physical conditioning to overcome both the obstacles and the elements.
Firefighter competitors gave it their all right to the finish line in this national competition built up of the type of tasks they can typically face in real life situations.
Started in 1994 FireFit has spread all across Canada and internationally too, even having its one hour Championship Finals show broadcast across various cable channels.
The busy weekend of July 18-19 kicked off with local crowds gathering under the Blue Water Bridge to watch the start of the 91st annual Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race.
FireFit then ran alongside the Point Edward Optimists Club’s ever popular Bridge Bash.
Saturday’s traditional pancake breakfast gave way to live music including Borderline, Scott Manery & The Barnburners, Chemical Valley and Retrospect across the two evenings, plus some nifty burger flipping across the days from Robert Oberholzer and his Optimist Club colleagues.
With about 1,400 attendees on the Saturday evening, Oberholzer and his team seemed more than happy with proceedings. All proceeds go towards local Point Edward causes.
As the crowds wilted in the bleachers and temperatures touched 40 degrees (Humidex), teams wearing full firefighter protective clothing, oxygen tanks and breathing apparatus undertook the daunting course in a spirit of strong camaraderie and tough competition.
Hailing from as far away as Timmins and Toronto they competed against the homegrown talents of Sarnia Fire and Rescue, Lambton College, and Point Edward Fire Department, where current local FireFit Canadian record holder for the individual race, Ian Van Reenen is stationed.
Van Reenen beat his nearest competitor by 13 seconds, setting a time of 1m:12s:61. The modest 22 year old easily won his event, delighting the local Point Edward crowd.
Van Reenen credits his success to four years of hard training and a straightforward ethic of being a productive part of the team.
His next major event will be the Canadian Nationals (Sept. 16-20 in Kitchener), where his Canadian record of 1:12.29 might well come under threat once again. It’s worth keeping in mind that the first part of the event is a climb of six flights of stairs, something Van Reenen does in around 11 seconds!
The Point Edward crew also carried out an “Extraction” demonstration on Saturday for onlookers, using a range of high tech power tools to quickly and safely take the roof off a car to allow access to its occupants, much like they were opening a tin of beans.
An interesting insight into the sophisticated team working and carefully executed procedures involved in rescue work.
Hilary McRoberts, vice president of FireFit championships, was delighted with how the weekend had gone.
“The Event was FANTASTIC! Well organized and the addition of Bridge Bash completed the fun for everyone! The brief rain and wind was the only damper!”
McRoberts welcomed the support of local partners who helped make the event happen.
“It’s a great location with super support from the community! A GREAT BIG thanks to Gord Yates (local volunteer firefighter) who was the catalyst in getting the event to Point Edward and Vicky Praill (of Tourism Sarnia Lambton) who ran the organization committee! We hope to return in 2016!”
For full details of results and upcoming events please visit the firefit site.
Gallery of Firefit images below