Firefighters' team win Oz Rescue Challenge

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2014

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Their mascot may be called Shambels but the same can't be said of the Hawera firefighters who took out a competition in Australia during the weekend.

The group of six volunteers bested 19 other teams to take out the Australasian Road Crash Rescue Challenge.

"Basically it's a firefighters' comp where you have to cut people out of cars," Glenn Heather said.

Heather was supposed to be part of the winning team, but stayed behind to look after his wife who has just been through surgery.

"It's lucky for the guy who took my spot," he said. Although missing out on the trip, Heather said he felt like part of the team given he donated their mascot.

"The guys call me Shambles and we thought we needed a mascot and I had a blow-up cow so we called it Shambles.

"Then when I made the Facebook page for it I spelt shambles wrong that's why it's now ‘Shambels'," he said. "I hope that cow was a motivating factor."

However, it's likely the team's success had nothing to do with the cow and everything to do with the 15 hours of practice each week.

"We buy cars off the wreckers and cut them to pieces then get a new one," he said.

Teams from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore competed at the event where each crew were assessed on three different crash scenarios: controlled, entrapped and time critical.

Teams include a controller, technicians who work the tools and medics.

"They were first in entrapped, first in critical and third in controlled and the best technical team," Hawera Senior Station Officer Darryl Fowler said. "That made them the overall champions. It's very exciting for the brigade, to be able to pull this off is huge."

The United Fire Brigades Association fund the top three teams from New Zealand but Hawera paid their own way after finishing fourth at nationals, Fowler said.

"That makes it taste extremely sweet. Lots of teams are paid crews, so to come from a volunteer station and win is absolutely amazing."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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