On Tuesday I received a message from a friend Lee from home asking where in Poland I was. Lee is in the Humberside fire brigade from my home town back in Hull and himself plus 3 others (Kris, Rich and Mark) were taking part in 2 firefighting competition in Torun (Firefighter Combat Challenge & Toughest Firefighter Alive).
They were planning to arrive on the Thursday in Torun and asked if I wanted to meet them. I was in Poznan at the time but was travelling to Warsaw the week after, so I agreed to meet them and stay in Torun for few nights (It was on the way to Warsaw anyway). I drove an hour on Tuesday evening and stayed in a lay by in a town called Strzelno, then in the morning headed off again to meet them for lunch after they had registered.
In Torun like most towns/cities they charge for parking, so I parked just outside the inner city ring road and left the van there during the day. After the first day, I did find a street right in the town centre that didn’t have a paying parking meter and cars/vans were parked there without a ticket for the whole day and night, so I moved mine closer and stayed down that street. It was safe but noisy on the night with people going out in the town.
After meeting all the lads (Lee, Kris, Mark and Rich) they actually started to
compete in their first round FCC (Firefighter Combat Challenge) This course started with a climb up a 30m scaffold tower frame while carrying a folded hose to the top, while at the top they must then pull a rolled-up hose up the side of the tower by a rope, then head back down the stairs but must step on every step on the way down, once at the bottom they hit a block backwards with a mallet/hammer until its past a certain point, they then ran to the other side of the course zig-zagging between upright extinguishers which they then collected a hose full of water back to the start through a set of double swing doors and spray a target until it falls, To finish off they then dragged a life-size dummy backwards towards the start/finish line, one the dummy past the line the clock was stopped.
For myself to watch this for the first time I was amazed how well everyone did, yes fitness is a massive importance as a fireman but some of these guys train so hard to get a faster time and rewarded for this.
What I really liked about the competition is that I found out this same competition is held all around the world and hosted by different country’s Meaning this competition had firefighters from the UK, Germany, Poland, New Zealand, Portugal, Gibraltar, Slovenia, France Czech Republic and many more. As the competition went on I got to meet more and more firefighters from all over the world, mostly the ones who spoke English. These were taking part in the TFA on day 3, again another set of 4 single challenges that were timed and then all added up at the end to give you a final time. The last stage involved running down the high street with a coiled up hose in each hand and then up the clock tower which was frigging high (seen on the photo below…on the right).
Kris from Humberside asked me if I could run beside him as he was running by himself (as a pacer) I did this and went up the tower with him which was great effort from him and great view from the top of the clock tower.
Once I got back to the start it was Lee’s turn and I asked to help him too and film on his phone. I also helped a guy called Matt from Gilbraltar but little did I know he was super fast and even in full kit and holding the hose’s he ran very quick and I struggled to keep up, in my defense he ran that part of the competition the fastest of the day out off 240+ firefighters which were amazing to see.
After this,I got talking to the Portugal firefighters in a cafe on the main strip and after a while we arrange to have drinks later that day….and we did on the Saturday evening at the open bar and the nightclub.
As I was still staying in the van the lads from Humberside offered me to use their shower and stay with them for food/drinks/breakfast etc. I felt part of the team by the end of the 3 days and definitely after the big night out on the Saturday that involved free drinks and a few nightclubs…..I didn’t feel great the next morning waking up in the van and was so happy I had breakfast and a shower to use at theirs…..not to mention the rooftop hot tub.
On the Sunday we took in some sights of the city and had a nice meal before I said bye to the lads as they were leaving early Monday morning.
I wanted to personally thank Lee and the guys from Humberside again for inviting me for the weekend and I’ll see you when I’m home next year (P.S because of you I think I have enough cereal to last my full journey) 🙂 Would also like to say it was great to meet the other guys from Portugal and Gibraltar and I’ll see you guys on my travels around Christmas /New Year.