FOR anyone outside the firefighting fraternity, watching the State Urban Firefighting Championships is nothing short of dramatic.
Take five well-muscled men, one old-fashioned two-wheeled fire cart and just six seconds for one man to climb a ladder with a hose to hit a target and you are bound to get an interesting competition.
Nearly a thousand volunteer firefighters from 67 brigades across the state, including two from Western Australia, took to Friendly Societies’ Park for the long weekend competition.
It’s not the first time this summer firefighters have taken over the football ovals. Many have returned from the staging areas set up at reserves for the Dartmoor, Grampians and Gippsland fires.
Good rivalry has kept the sport of firefighters going for 130 years so far, but there’s also a personal reason many firefighters are keen to pack their bags for the event, according to a Warrnambool CFA veteran. Ladders races, the torchlight procession and running wheel races are a chance to talk through the blazes faced over summer, Warrnambool CFA operations officer Henry Barton said.
“We held the 2009 championships here and that followed Black Saturday. That was the best thing we could have done because everyone was able to get together and talk about the summer and what had happened but also compete seriously,” Mr Barton said.
“It’s a fantastic camaraderie with the brigades but the other thing is with this time of the year, we’ve had a really long summer and it’s a good opportunity for the brigades to kick back and relax a bit and enjoy the sport of competing.”
Many brigades, including Warrnambool, had to prepare for the event despite losing members to strike teams taking on the blazes over the past two months.
By yesterday afternoon the brigade from Kangaroo Flat took the title for the fastest on the pumps and hoses, with Eurora winning B class and Horsham taking out C class.