Introduction

A steady trail of firefighters in overalls of yellow and orange have been interrupting the tranquil beauty of Castle Hill village.

Date:  19 October 2009

A steady trail of firefighters in overalls of yellow and orange have been interrupting the tranquil beauty of Castle Hill village. Held over 15, 16 and 17 October, the 2009 Firefighter Challenge has been the biggest yet.

Cristchurch City Council's Plains Crew take part in the relay pumping event.
Cristchurch City Council's Plains Crew
take part in the relay pumping event

The three-day event involved 33 teams from 10 different fire authorities plus an average of 60 support personnel each day. The increasing popularity of the challenge has encouraged organiser and Fire Officer for the Department of Conservation, Tony Teeling.

“This is a huge event. We start to plan the next challenge before this year’s is over. It’s thanks to the enormous commitment of those involved that we can ensure the event’s great success year after year.” 

A vital part in preparing crews for summer, the Firefighter Challenge is designed to test their knowledge, stamina and ability to perform under pressure. It also allows experienced firefighters the opportunity to mentor newcomers.

Principal Rural Fire Officer for Waimakariri District Council, Tim Shepherd, sees the importance of this event in training the large number of volunteer firefighters throughout the region.

“We depend upon the contributions of a growing number of dedicated volunteers. The challenge is a crucial indicator of competence and offers a unique chance for our volunteers to practice a broad range of tasks, such as navigation, first aid and leadership, before a real life event.”

Crews take part in the final task - didymo decontamination.
Crews take part in the final event - didymo
decontamination

Principal Rural Fire Officer South Canterbury Rural Fire District, Rob Hands, “I’ve witnessed first-hand the benefits for multi-agency cooperation this event has provided over the years. The Firefighter Challenge is a vital opportunity for fire authorities to practice a coordinated approach to managing large, damaging fires.

“Our crews have shown once again that they have what it takes to combine forces and work together to protect the regions from fire.”

Despite heavy downpours adding to the challenge, Tony is concerned that this summer will prove to be hot and dry.

“After seeing just how strong our teams are under pressure, I’m happy that our firefighters are prepared for when things get hot this year, my hope is that the public will be too.”

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