BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
It?s been called the toughest two minutes in sports and for good reason.
The Firefighter Combat Challenge is designed to push firefighters to their limit and beyond. It?s a gruelling event that showcases a firefighters strength, courage, heart and determination.
Five local firefighters will be heading to Ottawa Nov. 4-8 to take part in the World Firefighter Combat Challenge Championships. They will be competing against 500-plus other firefighters from across North America.
The competition itself is unforgiving. First a firefighter must lug a high-rise standpipe pack of hose, weighing about 42 pounds, up a tower to the fifth floor. From there, each competitor must haul a roll of hose, weighing about 45 pounds, using a hand over hand motion to the top. Then, using a nine-pound shot mallet and force machine they have to drive a 165-pound I-beam five feet. Next each competitor has to run a distance of 140 feet, around six fire hydrants, pick up a charged hose and nozzle, move it forward 75 feet, crack the nozzle and hit a designated target.
Finally, they must run another 30 feet and drag a 175-pound dummy a distance of 100 feet.
The tasks are completed individually, while the firefighter is wearing 60 pounds of gear.
An excellent time is considered three minutes.
The Sudbury members can complete the competition in under one minute and 30 seconds. Not bad for a group of men in their 40?s and 50?s. In fact, in the over-40 category, the Sudbury team is less than three seconds off the world record.
Each man takes a lot of pride and a sense of accomplishment in competing.
Rick Landry, 37, has been a firefighter in Sudbury for two years and feels the event shows the true spirit of a firefighter.
?It shows the dedication you can get out of people here in fire services,? said Landry. ?It shows what we will do for the city. We will do whatever it takes to get the job done.?
Jimmy Kolar, 41, has been a firefighter for nine years and has competed at four other events. Even though it?s the toughest thing he?s every done physically, he believes the firefighter combat challenge provides a great benefit to everyone who competes.
?It gives you more confidence to do your job,? said Kolar. ?It?s not fun and it hurts.?
Craig MacPhee, 41, has been a firefighter for 18 months. He competes for personal fitness and to establish friendships with other firefighters.
?The camaraderie is great and I get to meet firefighters from all across the country,? said MacPhee. ?This is my third year competing and it never gets easier.?
Ron Hache, 51, has been a firefighter for 26 years and loves the challenge. Five years ago he was in an accident and shattered his heel. Doctors told him he might not be able to go back to doing his job. The competition keeps Hache motivated.
?In coming back to work, I wanted to prove to myself and my brothers (other firefighters) I could do the job,? said Hache. ?This competition shows the most extreme conditions. Age isn?t a factor if you keep yourself in shape.?
Dave Fortier , 52, has been a firefighter for 24 years. This will be his fifth competition. The harshness of his first event still sticks vividly in his mind.
?When I was done, I needed 30 minutes of recovery time,? said Fortier. ?It?s absolutely excruciating.?
The team has captured numerous medals and awards over the years for their efforts. The team also competed at
the Canadian National Championships in September. TSN will air their efforts on Nov. 8. Both Hache and Kolar
will be highlighted.