A group of Nelson firefighters turned their talents with poles, axes, and hoses into top honours at the region’s inaugural Firefighter Games at Pass Creek park over the long weekend.
Hosted by the Robson fire department, the fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy tested firefighters’ teamwork, strength, endurance, and skill with the tools of their trade in nine different events.
Nelson’s team, made up of Bob Patton, Scott Jeffery, Leo Grypma, and Chris Thast, squared off against 13 others including Castlegar, Robson, Pass Creek, Tarrys, Balfour-Harrop, Beasley, Riondel, Creston, and Sparwood.
“It was a fun-filled, fantastic weekend,” Patton said. “I went in 2009 to the World Police and Fire Games, but something like this hasn’t been put on in our area for quite some time.”
After earning the most points in the competition, Nelson’s team took home a set of helmets inscribed “Firefighter Games 2014 Champions.”
“We were fortunate to win,” Patton said. “It was competitive but fun. The top five teams were all very close and we were lucky to come out on top.”
Chief organizer Dustin LePage, a Robson firefighter and the department’s Muscular Dystrophy Canada chair, said as the lone professional team, Nelson “did have more pressure on them to win. That’s what they do.”
The competition mostly featured unique events specially designed for spectators, including a hose roll relay, window rescue, beer barrel attack, hoisting challenge, axe throw, pike pole javelin, chin up square off, and sledgehammer slam.
“We came up with stuff that was entirely new,” LePage said. “We looked at various facets of the fire service industry and designed events around rescue, ladders, hoses, tools, ropes, knots and hoisting. We don’t normally throw pike poles or axes, but we do use them.”
The finale, called Mayday Mayday Mayhem, involved an obstacle course with a foam pit, confined spaces, and live fire. Events involved two to four team members and up to four teams at a time.
Between participants, volunteers, and spectators, over 1,000 people attended the two-day competition.
LePage didn’t yet have the final total raised through donations, liquor sales, a barbecue and raffle, but expected it to be in the “tens of thousands” of dollars.
Despite the eight months it took to plan the event, he said it would “definitely” be back next year, and thanked the community and sponsors for their support.