FireFit Championships hit St. Catharines this weekend

2024 Regional Event hopeful precursor to National Championships in 2025. Photo Credit: FireFit/Facebook. 

It’s likely one of the most physically demanding sporting events you will ever witness.

And it returns to St. Catharines this weekend.

The 2024 FireFit Championships feature a gruelling course that dozens of firefighters from across the region, the province and country will try to navigate Saturday and Sunday in the parking lot of the Seymour Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre on St. Paul Street West in the Garden City.

There is head-to-head competition and team relay events.

Here’s what you’ll get to witness in person this weekend: Hi-Rise/Stairs Up; Donut Roll Pull; Stairs Down; Force Machine; Run Hydrants; Hose Drag/Show Water; Victim Rescue; Stairs Up/Stairs Down; Stairs Down/Force Machine; Force Machine/Hydrants; Hydrants/Hose Drag/Show Water.

1st Task: Stair Climb with Hi-Rise Pack. With a flashlight in hand carry a Hi-Rise pack, 4-foot bundle of 4-inch hose weighing 42 pounds, to the sixth floor. The Hi-Rise pack must be deposited in the box at the top of the tower.  Proper placement is on or in the box, with no part of the Hi-Rise Pack touching the deck. The second competitor is already positioned at the top of the tower. Once the first competitor reaches the top of the tower, has one foot on the top platform and has deposited the hi-rise pack in the box, he may then make the exchange.

2nd Task: Hose Hoist. From the top of the tower, using a hand-over-hand motion, pull a 5/8-inch kern-mantle rope to hoist a donut roll of LDH hose (42 pounds). This task is complete when the donut roll clears the rail and is placed in the designated box at the top of the tower. Proper placement is on or in the box, with no part of the donut roll touching the deck. The donut roll must not leave the top platform, or it will result in disqualification. Competitors 5’6″ and under are allowed to stand on the Hi Rise pack with the option, on completion, to place the pack in or on the box or be assessed a two-second penalty. Upon completion of the hose hoist the competitor then retrieves and passes off the flashlight or continues down the tower. When receiving the flashlight, the next competitor must have one foot on the top landing of the tower.  Flashlights falling off the tower have a 10-second penalty in seeding rounds and disqualification in knockout rounds.

3rd Task: Descending the Tower. The competitor who is descending the tower must touch every stair and use the handrails. Once the competitor has both feet on the ground, they may pass off the flashlight to the next competitor who then moves to the force machine.  The force machine cannot be used to enable the exchange.  Exchanges must be grasp to grasp and in clear view of the official.  A two-second penalty will apply if not grasp to grasp.

4th Task: Forcible Entry. Once on the force machine, the competitor uses a Trusty Cook 9-pound dead-blow mallet to move the beam along 10″ until some part of the green decal can be seen.  Once complete the competitor must place the mallet on the designated 4′ x 4′ area, pick up the flashlight and hand it off to the next competitor.  If the hammer does not stay in the 4′ x 4′ area a two-second penalty is given.

5th Task: Run. This competitor runs 140 feet around the hydrants as fast as they can, then hands off or shoulders a 1.75″ fully charged hose line. There is a five-second penalty for missing a hydrant and a two-second penalty for knocking over a hydrant. Note: If passing off the flashlight to a waiting competitor the nozzle must not be touched until the flashlight has been exchanged grasp to grasp.

6th Task: Hose Advance. The hose advance competitor shoulders a 1.75″ fully charged BullDog hose line and drags it 75 feet. Once the nozzle crosses the 75-foot mark, the competitor opens the nozzle, hits the target with the stream of water.  There is a two second penalty for missing the target.  The competitor must close the nozzle before passing the flashlight. Exchanging the flashlight while the nozzle is open results in a five-second penalty. Once the hose advance is complete the competitor moves towards the final task and either completes the Victim Rescue or hands the flashlight off to the final competitor, who is stationed between the target and victim.

Task 7: Victim Rescue. The final competitor moves to the victim rescue task where a 175-pound mannequin, plus coveralls and boots, must be lifted and moved backwards a distance of 100 feet. Carrying the mannequin in your arms or over your shoulder is not permitted. The mannequin must not be grasped by its clothing or appendages. There is a two-second penalty for spiking the mannequin. The Relay is complete when the competitor and mannequin cross the finish line breaking the beam and stopping the clock. The mannequin’s feet must be completely across the blue line.

Merritton native, and current St. Catharines Fire Captain, Corey Miller is a longtime competitor in FireFit events.

“I would say the most difficult part for me, being a shorter guy, five-nine, five-10, is the up on the stairs,” said Miller when he joined the Niagara Sports Report on Newstalk 610 CKTB. “It’s definitely made for somebody with longer arms, longer legs.”

Miller was also quick to point out that the application is in for St. Catharines to host the FireFit National Championships next year.

“Our bid is in, and it would be a five-day event, and likely in the fall of 2025. It’s also important to highlight that St. Catharines, humbly I like to say, has become the mecca for this sport.”

“The last four or five regional events it’s been St. Catharines vs. St. Catharines going for gold in the relay events including, never have been done before, St. Catharines Relay Team 1 vs. St. Catharines Relay Team 2 in the gold medal national race last year,” said Miller. “It’s never happened.”

Miller and his teammates hope to repeat that this weekend in their own backyard.

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