Three small-town heroes have returned home after learning a lesson in camaraderie and setting the bar high for those who follow.
Bill Currie, Jordan McGee and Rob Greenaway recently competed against more than 30 fire departments from across British Columbia, making their mark on the 2012 Fire Fighter Games.
The annual event held each year in Prince George is designed to test the skill and endurance of the top fire- fighters in the area.
This year, however, an invitation was sent out to fire departments in both large and small districts across the province, widening the playing field, and stiffening the competition.
Brent Chamberlain, Chase fire chief, had been vacationing in Prince George last year while the event was taking place, and saw it as a great opportunity for his own department.
He pitched the idea to some crew members, and a three-man team was soon formed.
“I was going to compete in it myself,” says Chamberlain, “but something came up and I had to get a replacement.”
The three-day-long event has several competitions firefighters can take part in, including a number of team challenges such as circuit and bucket brigade, as well as a variety of individual challenges.
While the Fire Fighter Games are meant to be fun, Chamberlain says the events were all challenges his crew would need to do on calls in Chase.
The Chase representatives had to treat the challenges the same way they would an actual call; performing each challenge as quickly and efficiently as possible.
All three men took part in every individual competition available, while Greenaway paired up with 100 Mile House for the team challenges as well.
Greenaway was ultimately able to take eighth place alongside his temporary crew.
“I am very proud of how they did,” says Chamberlain, pointing out that his crew beat many of the larger fire departments from other areas despite it being their first time in the event.
Since the events in the competition are so similar to call-out situations, such as motor vehicle accidents, structure fires, or simply loading equipment, the three local representatives prepared for the event by simply taking calls and attending weekly practices.
“We have a pretty good team here,” says Chamberlain.
For Currie, McGee and Greenaway the event was considered to be a great success, each saying they took home something from their experience.
“It was a lot of fun,” says Greenaway. “You get to meet a lot of firefighters from different houses.”
Currie agrees, adding that it was the camaraderie that caught his attention.
On the final day of the event, a female firefighter from a different department was trying to complete a challenge.
She was towards the end, but was struggling, explains Currie.
She was about to give up when a group of other firefighters stepped in and helped her finish.
“It is a challenge, and we are all there to compete against one another, but the camaraderie is still there, we are still helping each other out.”
This, says Chamberlain, is what the Fire Fighter Games are truly about. “It is all about team building.”
On the scene of an accident, or at a burning building, fire crews must rely on one another to save lives and keep each other safe. Team building is a major part of that.
The competition did cost a small fee which was paid out of the firefighters’ own pockets. All three opted out of a hotel, choosing to stay at a relative’s house instead, says Chamberlain. The event was able to provide Chase with some province-wide exposure, without costing the village a cent.
The money raised through the fees went towards some of Prince George’s smaller fire departments, says Chamberlain.
He says the games are a great idea and he hopes to not only send members to next year’s Firefighter Games in Prince George, but would also like to bring the games to Chase as well.
It is fun for the crew and the community, says Chamberlain, and will help bring a little extra fundraising to the area.