Firefighters compete on driving skills

22:35, Jul 17 2014
fire truck
BACK UP: Station officer Scott Harris, of the Invercargill volunteer fire brigade, backs up in the fire truck in preparation for the 2014 United Fire Brigades’ Association National Drivers Challenge in Invercargill this weekend.

Firefighters from throughout New Zealand are about to pit their driving skills against one and other.

While some Invercargill drivers struggle to back into parks, these firefighters will try their hand at backing a fire engine into a garage, put the red machines through a slalom course and put their steering-wheel handling to the test.

More than 70 firefighters are arriving in Invercargill this morning ahead of the 2014 United Fire Brigades' Association National Drivers Challenge.

Eight fire engines will race around Teretonga Park Raceway tomorrow as the competition heats up and drivers show off their skills.

Senior station officer Les Costigan, of the Invercargill volunteer fire brigade, is one of the organisers behind the national event and said Invercargill had a title to defend.

Senior firefighter Jesse Wilcox, of the Invercargill volunteer brigade, was crowned the national driving champion last year at Ruapuna Raceway in Christchurch and, with it being held on home turf this year, Costigan hoped one of the competing Invercargill drivers could retain the title in the south.

Competition is tough and every move of the steering wheel counts, with the backing category measured to the inch to see who was the most precise, he said.

"In one of the tests, they will be driving down the street at about 80kmh and you go towards a traffic island and, as soon as you are almost there, you get an arrow pointing you to turn to either side."

Costigan said the public was welcome to watch the competition unfold, from 10am tomorrow.

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