Normally running is frowned upon when working on the fire ground.
Urgency? Yes. Sprinting? No.
Those rules get turned on their head for the elite firefighting skills competition, FireFit where volunteer and career firefighters compete to finish a relay course of firefighting skills in the fastest time.
“We did actually really well,” said Chestermere Fire Service (CFS) Senior Firefighter Rob Barchard.
Firefighters in Chestermere had their most successful competition yet this past year, entering three teams as well as five members competing in the individual competition.
“We had more teams in this competition than Calgary did,” said Barchard, “that was pretty cool.”
In fact, Barchard said that about 70 per cent of Chestermere’s firefighters compete.
“Which is pretty cool seeing that we started off in 2015 with two teams, one of 3 and one of 4 and two guys running individuals and now we have 14 people three teams and five guys running individuals,” he said.
Included in that number are two of the departments newest firefighter, both of whom represented Chestermere well in their rookie FireFit year.
Firefighter TJ Pettersson’s time was two minutes 0.34 seconds.
“Which is an amazing time for their first run ever in FireFit,” said Barchard.
Firefighter Josh Sather did even better for his first ever competition running the course in one minute 56.58 seconds.
“We’ve only had two guys in the history of the department run a sub two on their first run,” said Barchard.
Not to be outdone by the rookies, Barchard managed to set a new personal best completing his individual run in one minute 50.73 seconds.
These new personal bests are and the increased competitiveness of the CFS teams overall shows the changes that they’ve made since last year are working.
“The training’s been paying off,” said Barchard.
They’ve also purchased specialized gear for the competition.
Firefighters compete in their full gear at FireFit. The CFS teams have bought some FireFit competition gear that is a little lighter and easier to move fast in than their duty gear.
Along with the individual successes, two of the CFS teams made it to the quarter finals of the competition, “which is pretty cool,” said Barchard.
All five of the individuals have earned a wildcard spot at the Nationals in September and two of the teams will also be competing.
“It’s actually a combination of the National event and the World event this year in Spruce Meadows,” said Barchard.
The three CFS teams held a friendly competition amongst themselves with the slowest team to compete having to cover the fire hall in Chestermere so that the other two teams can compete without leaving the city unprotected during the Nationals.
Barchard is looking forward to getting to compete against team from across Canada and the world.
“They already have teams from Germany and I think Sweden already registered to come so that’s kind of exciting,” he said.
While the camaraderie and competition is a lot of fun, Barchard said that the main purpose of their competing in FireFit is to, “raise the bar with fitness in the department.”
Barchard said that that goal has been met. Whether it’s on the fire ground, training or working out at the firehall the physical aspect of the job is a little easier since he started competing.
“We’ve definitely raised the bar,” he said.
Before he started training for FireFit, Barchard said that he would be sore the day after a high impact drills.
“Now it’s like a five-minute recovery and you’re ready to do it all again,” he said, “it’s pretty cool.”
Along with their fitness, the awareness and support from the community has grown since they started in 2015.
“Thank you to everybody in the Chestermere community… who came out to support us,” said Barchard.
For more information on the CFS FireFit teams go to www.facebook.com/ChestermereFireFit/