SUCCESS: Backrow, Garth Sunckell, Daniel Thrupp, Tiare Titoko, Connor Storey, Solomon John, front row, Kahira Hughes, Tayla John, Renske Brabant-Weitkamp and Lynley Storey attend the prizegiving held at the Palmerston North Fire Brigade. Photos supplied

TANEATUA firefighters will be up against the best and competing against firefighters from across the nation in the upcoming Firefighter Combat Challenge

This comes after firefighters from the Taneatua, Ohope and Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigades competed in the North Island Firefighter Combat Challenge, which qualifies them to then go on to the national competition.

However, due to other commitments only five firefighters from Taneatua will be able to attend, Renske Brabant-Weitkamp, Tayla John, Solomon John, Garth Sunckell and Daniel Thrupp.

The firefighter combat challenge is organised by the United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand. It is extremely demanding and has earned the reputation of being the “toughest two minutes in sport”.

The North Island challenge was held last Friday and Saturday in Palmerston North and the local firefighters competed against firefighters from volunteer, career, urban, rural, army, air force and airport brigades.

Firefighters compete individually and in teams, with the Taneatua relay team, including Daniel Thrupp, Tiare Titoko, Solomon John and Garth Sunckell, placing fifth.

Wearing full firefighting gear, which weighs around 20 kilograms, and breathing from a BA set, competitors race against each other, and the clock, in a series of tasks across the course.

Taneatua firefighter Daniel Thrupp said breathing through the BA set is like “breathing through a straw”.

Participants have to climb a six-storey tower carrying a length of 70mm 19kg flaked hose.

CHALLENGING: Tiare Titoko hands the baton over to Solomon John
during the relay races.

They also have to use a 4kg shot hammer to drive a beam 1.5m, drag a charged length of 45mm hose weighing 45kg 30m and accurately shoot a target with it before carrying a life-size 81kg dummy for 30.5m.

Mr Thrupp said most people “break” when it comes to carrying the dummy.

“Your lungs are hurting, your back is done, your legs are done, and you just want to give up,” said Mr Thrupp.

“But everyone around you is telling you to hurry up and just get it done so you just need to find it within yourself to just get that last bit done.

“It’s always the hardest and that’s where people break.”

For Mr Thrupp, the North Island challenge was just the warm up for the nationals and he is now in training to ensure he will do well.

“If you want to be the best you have to put in that extra effort,” he said.

“I used this challenge as the dummy run for the nationals. I used that time to my advantage to figure out where I’m lacking. My body hates me, so I need to do a lot more training.”

The nationals will be held on the Wellington waterfront on May 3.

Eastern Bay competitors in the North Island Firefighter Combat Challenge

  • Taneatua Volunteer Fire Brigade: Renske Brabant-Weitkamp, Kahira Hughes, Fee de Looff, Tayla John, Solomon John, Tiare Titoko, Ezra Brabant-Weitkamp, Arko Brabant-Weitkamp, Daniel Thrupp.
  • Ohope Volunteer Fire Brigade: Seth Hands, Cole Hands, Ethan Hands, Geoff Brown, Fraser Jackson, Matt Lowe.
  • Edgecumbe Volunteer Fire Brigade: Lynley Storey, Connor Storey, voluntary support officer – Garth Sunckell.