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Ohakea Firefighter breaks records

Ohakea civilian firefighter Aidan Grant has smashed the New Zealand Firefighters Challenge record – a record that he had also set.

28 May, 2024

He ran the course, designed to challenge all aspects of firefighting, in 1.25 minutes – six seconds faster than the existing record.

“You’re all kitted up in your firefighting equipment and wearing breathing apparatus. The individuals also wear masks and are breathing air through a cylinder.”

The extra gear adds at least an extra 20kg for the competitors.

Each firefighter had to scale a three-storey tower with six flights of 10 stairs while carrying a 19kg hose, Mr Grant explained.

“You throw that down when you get to the top and then haul up another 19kg hose. Then you run down all the stairs, needing to touch each step on the way. Then you run to a simulated forced entry machine and hit that with a mallet. After that you need to run through some cones, grab a charged hose, extend it through some doors and hit a target. Once the target is knocked down you run to the dummy and drag it 100 feet, and then you’re finished.”

It took Mr Grant a full 31 seconds longer to talk through what was involved in the course than it took for him to run it.

“It does seem like a lot of stuff to fit into a short amount of time,” he laughed.

And it wasn’t just Mr Grant shattering national records at the competition. The Air Force, which that he was a part of, also broke the New Zealand record in the relay, running it in 1.16 minutes. Alongside Mr Grant, the team was made up of Corporal Phoenix Afoa-Purcell, Aircraftman John Booth and Leading Aircraftman Jackson Donaldson.

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Ohakea civilian firefighter Aidan Grant has smashed the New Zealand Firefighters Challenge record. Photos provided by Paul Shaw.

“It’s the same course and the teams are made up of four or five people. We had four people. It was an awesome weekend.”

The next challenge in Mr Grant’s sights is the World’s Firefighter Challenge taking place in Nashville, Tennessee at the end of October.

“There will be quite a few New Zealanders going over for that, so it will be good to be one of them.”

Mr Grant became involved in the competitions in 2018 while he was enlisted in the New Zealand Army.

“I was in the Linton brigade and some of the guys convinced me to have a go and I’ve just been hooked on it ever since. I’ve been to the World’s a couple of times, I went in 2018 and then last year over there as well. The first was held in Sacramento, California and last year was Stuart, Florida.”

The military was really supportive of his training and competition efforts, he said.

“They usually try to get everyone involved. It’s an awesome event and you often get to make connections with other firefighters around the country and the world, and that’s really important.”