A team of local firefighters from the Gibraltar Fire & Rescue Service travelled to Montgomery, Alabama to represent Gibraltar in the 25th anniversary of the World Firefighter Combat Challenge, and made it all the way to the Finals!
The competition consists of five individual disciplines linked in one race replicating real-life demands of a firefighter at a fire incident.
The Head-to-Head race consists of climbing a 5-storey tower with a 20kg hose pack, hoisting, chopping (a forcible entry machine or keiser), slalom run, hose drag, and ends with the rescue of a life-sized dummy 'casualty' weighing 80 kg. All this has to be carried out wearing full bunker gear, which consists of the firefighter kit including breathing apparatus, as the competitors race against their opponents and the clock.
The race has been aptly named the ‘Toughest two minutes in Sport’ by ESPN.
The team travelled to compete in the hope of making it past the four wildcard qualifier days for the world finals. What they didn’t expect was to make it all the way to the actual World Final!
Against hundreds of competitors from all over the globe, the team of local firefighters, Matt Coulthard, Julian McGrail, Dylan Pratts and Dyron Ford raised above all expectations’ and put in amazing performances to achieve a Silver medal in the Team Hybrid race.
"We are thrilled at what we have achieved. We went with the intentions of trying to qualify for the final knock out stages but to make it to the knock out stages and then all the way to the final is beyond our wildest dreams. To come second in the world and to come from such a small nation with a limited number of firefighters and to only be competing in the sport for only a couple of years is such an amazing feeling."
The team of firefighters are thrilled that all the hard work and months of training, including gruelling early morning, pre-work training sessions, paid off. "Getting on that podium has made the sacrifices to our families and the early morning ‘torture’ training sessions, while everyone else is still asleep in their beds, worth it."
Not only have our firefighters achieved a remarkable Silver, but three of the team members, Julian McGrail, Matt Coulthard and Dylan Pratts are the first Gibraltarian and British firefighters in 25 years of the competition to be inducted into the ‘Lion’s Den’ - the Elite Club of the world’s fastest finishers. "We are thrilled at this achievement, not only are we the first Gibraltarians but the first ever ‘British’ firefighters to have this honour bestowed upon them."
"We are just so happy that we have had this opportunity and would like to thank all our families that have had to put up with our training and a massive Thank You to our sponsors, including Masbro Insurance, Kusuma Trust, Holland & Barrett, Protek, Jolly Boots and Smartwear. Without their help this would not have been possible. We also want to give a big shout to our team mates that were unable to make it to the World Championships but have been with us throughout the European competitions, Eric Abudarham and Bernie Vaughan and a huge thanks to Firefighter Philip Kaiser our German firefighter brother who made up our fifth team member at the Championships."
"We are so glad that we are able to take part in the competition, and we have the support of colleagues, management and our Chief Fire Officer. As well as compete, our aim is to help promote health and fitness as part of work and an active lifestyle. Knowing that we may help inspire the public into taking steps towards a healthier, more active lifestyle is motivation enough to keep pushing and working harder for next year."