Behind the Scenes at the British Firefighter Challenge
The British Firefighter Challenge is an annual sporting event involving a series of gruelling strength and endurance challenges. Designed to encourage health and fitness, advance equality and diversity, and fundraise for the Firefighters Charity, the event welcomes firefighters worldwide from all backgrounds and ethnicities.
This year over 100 Firefighters competed, representing Fire Services from across the UK and Europe. With over a dozen sponsors, nearly 1,000 spectators and over 5,000 viewers live streaming the event, the challenge raised £5,000 for the Firefighters Charity, helping operational and retired firefighters receive the physical, financial or mental health support they need.
The challenge tests speed, strength and stamina, as participants complete eight gruelling stages one after the other, carrying over 30kg of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and breathing apparatus. From a three-story tower stair ascent and descent to a casualty rescue of a 70KG dummy, the event pushes firefighters to their limits.
John Gregory, Director at the British Firefighter Challenge and Crew Manager at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, says, “Finding the time and energy to train for the challenge can be a feat in itself. I recommend breaking each stage down. Improve your stair running and sprinting, work with resistance and weights similar to those used on the course and get familiar with dragging a 70kg dummy. The final challenge of completing the casualty rescue cannot be underestimated.”
Every stage of the competition has been thought through to replicate the demands of the profession. All contestants must compete in their own, approved PPE and wear breathing apparatus, essential for protecting firefighters from the elements.
“Not all PPE is created equal. Firefighters need the right equipment to ensure they benefit from comfort and agility without jeopardising on protection. HAIX, a global footwear specialist with nearly 30 years’ experience developing firefighter boots, provided members of Team GB with HAIX Fire Eagle boots for much-needed stability and mobility while remaining lightweight”, adds John Gregory.
HAIX’s UK Sales Manager, Simon Ash, comments, “These are not professional athletes receiving coaching and nutrition; these are firefighters that work and serve in our communities and maintain their health and fitness to be the best in their line of duty. We’re grateful for the opportunity to show our support and act as the official footwear sponsor for Team GB, ensuring they have footwear that helps them go the distance”.
The newly crowned British Champion, Dave Budge, adds, “Having HAIX as a sponsor to Team GB has been a huge support over the last three years. I have been wearing HAIX Fire Eagles since 2018 across Europe and they’ve helped me improve my performance. I can run faster due to the lightweight material and the boot’s ability to be tightened for a personalised fit as well as the comfort they provide.”
Bec Meachin, a competitor at this year’s British Firefighter Challenge, comments, “The event was superbly organised as always, promoting firefighter fitness, wellbeing and camaraderie. I was first up on day two with my fire kit, breathing apparatus and my favourite HAIX Fire Eagle boots to help me tackle the challenge. Nice and light, breathable and flexible, helping me each step of the way!”
Navigating events since the pandemic has been challenging and without support from sponsors like HAIX, the event would not be possible.
“We’re grateful to welcome back the British Firefighter Challenge and for all the support we have received from those invested in the emergency services community,” says John Gregory.
Next year’s event is taking place from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st July in Hull, UK.
For more information, visit www.haix.co.uk