Firefighters Excel at 12th Annual Morinville Fire Department Combat Challenge

by Stephen Dafoe

At this year’s Morinville Festival Days, attendees were privileged to witness the sheer bravery of our province’s firefighters. These heroes, without a second thought, rush into burning buildings, risking their lives to save others and combat fires.

The Morinville Fire Department hosted the 12th annual Firefighters’ Combat Challenge at the Morinville Leisure Centre on Saturday, June 15. This event, the largest of its kind, brought together a record gathering of firefighters from within and outside the region.

For four hours on Saturday, firefighters in three divisions, Masters, Men’s and Women’s, went through an obstacle course that tested many of their firefighting skills and demonstrated that the occupation is challenging, even with countless hours of training.

Dressed in full gear, competitors started the course by carrying a packed fire hose on their back up four flights of stairs, where they dropped the pack and used a rope to haul another bundled fire hose from the ground up to the top floor. Upon completing that task, each firefighter returned to ground level, ensuring their feet touched each step in the four-storey scaffold structure. On the ground, competitors drove a concrete block a distance of one foot using a sledgehammer, an exercise replicating the exertion needed for a forced entry. Next, the firefighter manoeuvred around a set of fire hydrants 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 exchanged 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 to applause and pyrotechnics.

This year’s event had 52 competitors: Ten in the Masters’ Division, six in the Women’s Division and 33 in the Men’s Division.

Morinville did not place in the top three in the Masters’ division this year. First place went to Leduc County firefighter Jory Bourdon with a course time of 1:43:20. Jason Gieblehaus from Beaumont took second place with a time of 1:53:34, and Pembina firefighter Quenton White took third spot with a time of 2:19:36.

In the Women’s Division, Jenna Sitar from Hinton took First Place again this year with a time of 2:46:34, beating her first place record from 2023 of 3:10:56. Second Place went to Beaumont Firefighter Kim Walter with a time of 2:53:53, and Third Place went to Amy Carter from Lac St. Anne with a time of 4:08:19 AM.

Morinville dominated the top three in Men’s Division with two top-three times. Morinville firefighters Steven Holubowich took First Place with a time of 1:27:31, and multi-event winner Joshua Cust took third spot this year with a time of 1:39:31. Cust was two-and-a-half seconds behind Second-Place finisher TJ Anderson from Spruce Grove with a time of 1:37:03 seconds.

In addition to the three divisions, a relay event was held, with Morinville Fire Department taking First Place with a time of 1:18:08. Morinville and Spruce Grove combined to make another team, which finished in Second Place with a time of 1:23:08. Beaumont’s relay team held Third Place with a time of 1:27:11.


Sturgeon County Firefighter Christine Matkea drags the rescue manikin towards the finish line during the Women’s component of this year’s Firefighters’ combat Challenge.  Matkea finished in sixth place with a time of 6:00:00. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

Morinville Firefighter Kenneth Preston drags his rescue manikin back across the finish line during the Masters’ component of this year’s Firefighters Combat Challenge. Preston, a last-minute entry to the competition finished 10th with a time of 3:33:39. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

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