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Competition victory for Northants in an international, ‘virtual’ firefighters’ challenge

Firefighters Dean Keeber, Aaron Childs and Paul Webb standing in front of a fire engine with trophies

Congratulations go to an intrepid team of firefighters from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service who excelled in a virtual firefighters’ challenge, against competitors from across Europe.

Firefighter Aaron Childs, who is based at Mereway Fire Station in Northampton, landed first place in the Cheshire Firefighter Challenge (and first in his age group), beating 89 other entrants from six different countries.

And colleague Dean Keeber, from The Mounts Fire Station, landed third place overall (and first in his age group).

The Cheshire Firefighter Challenge was held last month as a regional competition which forms part of the British Firefighter Challenge.

The event involves a course of eight challenges focused on firefighting activities, designed to test the competitors’ physical and mental strength and ability.

This year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the annual challenge became a virtual one and firefighters were asked to send in videos of themselves undertaking the challenge.

In total, four Northamptonshire firefighters took part, with the team also including Bec Meachin (training department) and Paul Webb from Kettering Fire Station.

The Northamptonshire team were also named second fastest team overall in their completion of the activities, narrowly missing out to Cumbria.

Firefighter Childs said: “I’m really proud to have earned first place and I think our overall performance has drawn quite a lot of interest from other firefighters who have expressed an interest in taking part in future firefighting challenges.”

Firefighter Keeber said: “I’m really proud of the high standards every member of the team managed to achieve and I think this really made Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) stand out against such tough competition from across other European countries.

“The extra challenge this year was of course organising and recording the course ourselves and I’m so pleased with this amazing outcome.”

The challenge involved being timed carrying out a series of activities, including a 200 metre run (wearing BA set), a 20 metre hose reel drag, a 20 metre hose reel pull, carrying 4 foam drums (each weighing 25kg) for 10 metres and the task of dragging a 75kg dummy across a length of 50 metres. These were just a few of the testing tasks set to the competing firefighters.

The challenge itself is held to help promote firefighter fitness and to help raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity.

Co-organiser Ryan Cook, who worked with Mark Pollard to bring the event together, said: “Northamptonshire’s firefighters did really well in the challenge. When the usual challenge had to be postponed, we decided to hold it virtually in aid of charity. The challenge itself is really to promote firefighter fitness. With the current Covid-19 situation, this was something to keep people motivated and to help people look after both their mental and physical health.”

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