More than 250 firefighters from Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes are competing in the annual FireFit Challenge at Angrignon Park in Montreal this weekend.
It was a cool 34 degrees by noon on Saturday but hundreds of firefighters were in full gear showcasing what it takes to do the job.
“It really brings firefighters together and tries to make the best of the best and it replicates a lot of what we do on the scene of a fire,” said Chris Ross, President of the Montreal Firefighters Association.
The timed event includes running up a five storey building, pulling a hose and even dragging a victim across the floor.
“When I started during the stairs at the beginning, I was like ‘oh I’m dying’, why am I doing this?” Said firefighter, Elisabeth Bossé. “But at the end you’re just happy to do that, even if you’re dying,” she added.
Firefighters from all over eastern Canada were on site to not only compete, but participate in the second annual Firefighters Family Rendez-Vous, hosted by the Montreal Firefighters Associaton.
“It gives us a little bit of time to be closer to the community, have the involvement and give a little bit back to the community,” said Ross.
The weekend event is completely free, from the BBQ to the family activities.
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“We got fire trucks from the local stations that are in the parking lot with us, and we replicated a little mini version of the FireFit competition for the kids,” added Ross.
Verdun city councilor Sterling Downey was not only on site to represent the city but was also competing.
“To put on the equipment, to wear it, to train with it and to actually understand the constraints, the refinement, and importance of the equipment. This is why I do it,” he said.
The competition also serves to show the community what fire fighters endure.
“The mental strength, the physical strength to complete this course and to do this speak volumes,” added Sterling, who was competing for a second time.
A moment of silence for fallen firefighters is also observed, not just for those who died on duty.
“We have a lot of lot of members who die from professional illnesses and specifically cancer,” said Ross.
Sunday will bring the event to an end with team relays and family competitions. Firefighters who qualify can eventually end up at the national and world championships.