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Four local firefighters heading into combat

Four firefighters from the Gisborne and Manutuke FENZ brigades will go into combat later this week in the firefighters’ equivalent of the ironman competition.

Father and son pair Rob and Gary Graham from the Manutuke brigade will be joined by city firefighters Robin Sneddon and Judah Theobald in the annual Combat Challenge.

The event is this Friday with the tandem event, and then Saturday is the individual event, both at Aotea Square in Auckland.

“The Combat Challenge course starts with climbing six flights of stairs with a 20kg hose pack,” firefighter Rob Graham said.

“When you’re at the top of the stairs you rope up another 20kg hose pack, and go down the stairs.

“Next you sledgehammer a 75kg weight two metres, then run through a 30 metre cone course, grab a charged fire hose, and run back the 30m to squirt a target.

“After that you grab a dummy that weighs 90kg and drag it backwards for 30m to the finish line, all that in a time of two minutes — hopefully,” he said.

They do all that fully kitted out in firefighting gear, including breathing apparatus.

“The Combat Challenge is the most physically demanding of our challenges, so crossing the finish line is all the more rewarding,” a competition spokesman said.

“It has earned the reputation of being the toughest two minutes in sport.

“Competitors race against each other and the clock in the series of tasks across the course,” he said.

“The competition is a great test of skill and fitness and simulates the physical demands of real-life firefighting to the public.”

The Gisborne men said they were really looking forward to the challenge, and so are the support crew they will have with them.

This will be the North island Combat, with the National Combat in Wellington on April 30 and May 1. Rob Graham and Robin Sneddon will compete at the national championships.