It was a photo finish for Wellesley’s FireFit team at national competition in Alberta earlier this month, with the team earning a third-place medal for mixed relay and posting their best time in the event.
In full gear, firefighters from all across Canada complete seven different tasks in the shortest time possible. First up, competitors climb stairs with equipment, then another hoists a hose with hand over hand motion. Next, a member will go down the stairs, then break through a door with a nine-pound mallet, running around hydrants, dragging a hose, and finally, victim rescue.
Madison Lavigne is a volunteer firefighter in Linwood and one-fourth of the Wellesley Township FireFit team, along with volunteer township firefighters Ryan Dosman, Dave Uberig and Clayton Greer. She says the final moments before the team learned of their bronze win in Calgary were tense. The team competed from Sept. 14 to 19.
“We were so happy but we actually had to go to video review to prove that we won,” she said. “It was a little bit of a battle, but once the referee came to us and told us they had reviewed the tape, and told us we had won third, we automatically went from kind of a bad mood to super, super happy.”
The team that would have come third had a penalty error in their run of the relay course, adding a couple of seconds to their time and putting Wellesley ahead.
“We were only one second behind the other team. Most penalties add two seconds to your time. What happens is that in the relay, there is a flashlight that acts as a baton, and the girl on their team was running through cones, and she had handed it off to the next person,” said Lavigne. “That person had it in his hand, dropped it, and then the girl ran back out and picked it up for him, and that isn’t allowed. That is where they got dinged.”
Aside from representing Wellesley in national competition, Lavigne says one of the highlights of her experience was getting to see some of the other teams from Western Canada.
“I had never been to Calgary, and seeing all of their rescue teams, like Fort McMurray was competing. It was just cool to see different crews,” she said. “Even though we are in the same country, their stuff is a lot different than ours. They have more specialized units.”
Lavigne and Dosman added two more members to their team just before heading to Calgary, but she says they overcame the challenge, running their relay in the fastest time since they started training, including their times in regional competition.
“It was a bit harder to practice, because we added two more people to the team and everyone has busy lives, but at the end of the day, we are all fit. Dave does CrossFit with me, and Clayton does his own military fitness stuff on the side, so even though it was hard to get together, we had done the relay with everyone in Oshawa. We got third place there too, so we knew that we could do okay. We did a lot of training on our own, and together, and we ended up beating our fastest time. We ran 1:27 in Oshawa and we ended up running a 1:23 in Calgary.”
The only way the team was able to finance their training and trip out west was through fundraisers, like a car wash earlier this month, and corporate sponsorships. Lavigne says it wouldn’t have been possible without their community.
“It means more than they will probably understand because even just small donations help us get there. Everything adds up,” she said. “Just seeing that the community is supporting us in what we are doing was awesome. A huge thank you to everyone who donated, who sponsored us or even those who just followed us on social media.”