Morinville Fire Department’s Combat Challenge Ignites the Spirit of Bravery and Competition

Fifty firefighters are set to compete in this weekend’s Morinville Fire Department’s Combat Challenge in the Morinville Leisure Centre’s Lanmdrex Arena. – Morinville Online File Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Rushing into a burning building to save lives and fight fires is a serious enterprise requiring a proper mixture of skill and stamina, something few people see close up. But this weekend’s Morinville Festival Days provides attendees with the unique opportunity to see firefighters from Morinville and the area putting those skills to the test during the Morinville Fire Department’s Combat Challenge.

The Morinville Fire Department is once again hosting its annual Firefighters Combat Challenge on Saturday, June 17, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Morinville Leisure Centre as part of Morinville Festival Days.

For four hours on Saturday, firefighters will go through an obstacle course that tests many of their firefighting skills and demonstrates that the occupation is challenging, even with countless hours of training.

Morinville Fire Chief Brad Boddez said the purpose of the obstacle course is to simulate anything job-related. “It’s getting them ready to do what is required on the job in a fun, sporting [way],” Boddez said. “Firefighters are very competitive, but it’s a great bonding moment for the brotherhood.”

Dressed in full gear, competitors start the course by carrying a packed fire hose on their back up four flights of stairs, where they drop the pack and use a rope to haul another bundled fire hose from the ground up to the top floor. Upon completing that task, each firefighter must return to ground level, ensuring their feet touch each step in the four-storey scaffold structure. On the ground, competitors drive a concrete block a distance of one foot using a sledgehammer, an exercise replicating the exertion needed for a forced entry. Next, the firefighter manoeuvres around a set of pylons to grab a fully charged fire hose, drag it back across the arena floor obstacle course and let loose on a target. The firefighters then exchange the heavy hose for an equally heavy rescue dummy, dragging the 200-pound dead weight across the arena floor lot to reach the finish line.

Boddez said the Department is particularly excited about this year’s event because it is the biggest Combat Challenge in the Department’s 11 years of hosting.

“We’ve got fifty competitors. We capped it at fifty and got all fifty before the deadline,” Boddez said. “We’ve got teams from Lac La Biche, Hinton, Lamont, Beaumont, and our Sturgeon County—Gibbons, Bon Accord, Morinville. So we are super, super excited about it.”

Boddez said registration was opened to a couple of full-time fire departments, including Spruce Grove.

“I think if they want to come and see what the firefighters do. We try to make it a fun event. We play lots of music. The crowd gets involved,” Boddez said, adding the Department is happy to host the event indoors at the Lesure Centre once again this year.

The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. Admission to the event is free.

For a complete list of weekend activities, visit

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