Firefighters do battle

By Zaryd Wilson

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HOME TEAM: Glen Haden (left), Dan Townsend, Myles Hodder and Paul Doughty of the Whanganui Fire Service are gearing up to represent their home town when it hosts the North Island Firefighter Combat Challenge next month.PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
HOME TEAM: Glen Haden (left), Dan Townsend, Myles Hodder and Paul Doughty of the Whanganui Fire Service are gearing up to represent their home town when it hosts the North Island Firefighter Combat Challenge next month.PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

The "toughest two minutes in sport" is coming to Whanganui next month with competitors in record numbers.

The North Island Firefighter Combat Challenge is being held at Peat Park on February 27.

It brings together firefighters from all over the North Island to compete as teams and individuals in a quick-fire course that involves five tasks which mimic day-to-day firefighting.

Station officer Shane Dudley said hosting the event was also a fundraiser for the brigade's 150th Jubilee later in the year.

About 124 competitors are registered which is open to all career firefighters, volunteers, operational support and industrial fire brigades. It the biggest number the annual event has drawn and the first time it has been held in Whanganui.

"Whanganui seems to be a pretty popular spot for it," Mr Dudley said.

The course involves a stair climb, hose hoist and stair descent, forcible entry, obstacle course and hose advance, and finishes with the victim rescue.

That's all done with firefighters fully kitted up, including in breathing apparatus.

"That's the biggest killer for most guys," qualified firefighter Glen Haden said. "Being able to manage their breathing and keeping a cool head the whole time. For a lot of the guys, it'll be their first time. Knowing the tricks of the trade is a big thing."

The best will go through the nationals in March.

Meanwhile, Mr Dudley said such events brought the firefighting "family" together. The Whanganui crew had been training with some of the Bulls volunteers. "It breaks down barriers," he said. "There's great comradeship."

The public were encouraged to check out the event in the day.

"There'll be firefighters from all over the North Island here," he said. "They call it the toughest two minutes in sport."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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