by Stephen Dafoe
Rushing into a blazing building to save lives and fight fires is a serious enterprise that requires a proper mixture of skill and stamina, something few people get to see close up. But last weekend’s St. Jean Baptiste Festival provided attendees the unique opportunity to see firefighters from Morinville, Namao, Bon Accord and Hinton putting those skills to the test during the Morinville Fire Department’s Fire Within Combat Challenge.
For nearly two hours firefighters of both genders made their way through an obstacle course that put many of their firefighting skills to the test and demonstrated that the occupation is not an easy one, even with the countless hours of training.
Dressed in full gear, competitors began the course by carrying a packed fire hose on their back up four flights of stairs where they would drop the pack and use a rope to haul another bundled fire hose from the ground up to the top floor. Upon the completion of that task, each firefighter had to make their way back down to ground level, ensuring that their feet touched each step in the four-storey scaffold structure. Back on the ground competitors had to drive a concrete block a distance of one foot using a sledge hammer, an exercise that replicates the exertion needed for a forced entry. Next the firefighter had to manoeuvre around a set of pylons to grab a fully charged fire hose, drag it back across the parking lot obstacle course and let loose on a target. The firefighters then exchanged the heavy hose for an equally heavy rescue dummy, dragging the 200-pound dead weight back across the length of the parking lot to reach the finish line.
After a series of individual competions which saw Morinville firefighter Josh Cust do the course in 1:3266 to take the fastest run of the day, Morinville firefighters took on colleagues from other departments in a relay event. Morinville won the day with a time of 1:2840, narrowly defeating their opponants who achieved a time of 1:2881.
Below is a gallery of shots from the competition.