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Fired up for national competition

Two volunteer firefighters from Carterton Fire Station are competing at the United Fire Brigade Association [UFBA] national competition in Wellington today.

Kylie Elwin and Jane Phillips Bell recently competed in the UFBA competition in Palmerston North against 90 other competitors from across the North Island.

“We were in the tandem events; Jane did the front part of the course while I did the latter,” Elwin said.

“First, it was a slalom course through some cones, and then you have to run out a charged hose at a distance of 30 metres.

“The final part was having to drag a life-sized mannequin, 82kg in weight, a distance of 30 metres.”

Both volunteers noted that it was particularly challenging as they are on the lower end of five feet in height, but they finished the course and were proud of it.

Phillip Bell said that having competed in the North Island competition, they are now going to Wellington where they’ll go head to head with competitors from the South Island competition that was held in Invercargill.

“We are expecting about 170 people to be at the national competition,” Phillip Bell said.

“Me and Kylie have only been volunteering as firefighters for a little over a year, but we wanted to give it a go, especially for our kids.”

“We want to show them that mums can do anything if they put their mind to it,” Elwin agreed.

They’re the only competitors from the Wairarapa region, and they hope to inspire more local crews to participate in the future.

As part of the Wellington competition, participants will be wearing full firefighting gear, including a breathing apparatus, as they climb a six-story tower while carrying a 19kg flaked hose as quickly as they can.

That leg of the event is followed by hoisting a 20kg hose coil up the tower prior to using a 4kg shot hammer to drive a beam 1.5 metres.

Finally, competitors burst through a saloon door to hit a target with a charged hose before dragging an 81kg mannequin 30.5m to the finish line.

The competition takes place today and Saturday at Odlins Plaza in Wellington and is a showcase of a firefighter’s skills and endurance, a UFBA spokesperson said. “These competitors are the fittest of the fit from firefighting.”

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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