For a little while, it seemed like the Alberta and Yukon Regional FireFit Championships slated for the weekend of June 2 wouldn’t happen at all. Originally scheduled to be held in Fort McMurray, the event had been cancelled at the last minute due to the wildfire situation in the province and staffing issues. Fortunately, Strathcona County quickly stepped in and offered to host the event in the parking lot at the Kinsmen Leisure Centre in Sherwood Park.
Regrettably, the cancellation announcement for the Regional FireFit Championships, followed by a later announcement that it was back on again, ultimately led to one of the three Swan Hills firefighters who had signed on for the event being unable to attend.
Usually, Regional FireFit Championship events are held over two days, with the individual events on one day and the relay or team events on the other. This year, all the events were held on Saturday, June 3. Jamie Molnar (Senior Firefighter) and Clayton MacDonald (Lieutenant) of the Swan Hills Fire Department said that they had a lot of fun at FireFit. MacDonald described the event, saying, “It was a really good family atmosphere, where brothers and sisters in the fire service came together to compete, but were also there to fiercely cheer each other on.” Molnar also spoke about the camaraderie and support of their fellow firefighters along with their families, all cheering for and encouraging one another.
Both Molnar and MacDonald competed in the individual events for their categories (categories are generally based on age and gender, with a few exceptions). Competitors in the individual events perform a gruelling series of seven tasks in full firefighter gear, wearing and breathing from an SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) pack.
The Swan Hills competitors had a phenomenal showing. MacDonald won a bronze medal, placing third in his category with a time just one second off of his personal best. Based on his time of 02:09, MacDonald has qualified to compete on one of the ‘Wild Card Days’ for a position on the Final Day of the National Championships. Molnar won gold, placing first in his category and shaving four seconds off his personal best. By coming in first with a time of 02:14, he has qualified for the National Championships. Molnar joked, “Four years older and four seconds faster, so that’s pretty good. A second per year.”
MacDonald and Molnar also competed as a team in the Tech2 event. In this event, both team members are in full firefighting gear and wearing SCBA packs, but they do not wear the air masks, and only the first member’s pack is equipped with an air cylinder. The first person completes half of the race, and then on meeting their teammate, they switch out the air cylinder from the first person’s pack to the second person’s pack before the second person finishes the last half of the event.
A couple of days after competing, both Molnar and MacDonald were still in excellent spirits and caught up in the excitement of the event. Molnar said, “The experience with FireFit is always a positive one.”
Congratulations to both Jamie and Clayton for doing Swan Hills proud!!
Hopefully, they will take time to rest up and recover this week because they will be tackling the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge in Calgary this upcoming weekend.
By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 07, 2023