Heat goes on for fire crews

00:47, Feb 25 2013
  3 Waterway Challenge
Put to the test: Maurice Tipene, of Silverdale, puts plenty of energy into the hose-running competition designed to test firefighters’ skills. Sixteen teams took part in the challenge.

Fire brigades from around the upper North Island gathered in Morrinsville on Saturday, racing against the clock and each other in a bid to be crowned the best in the region.

Sixteen teams, including Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha from the Waikato, competed in the region 3 Waterway Challenge, a fiercely contested hose-running competition held every two years.

The event, which has been running for 138 years, sees firefighters compete in two and four-man teams, carrying out a range of tasks designed to test their core skills.

"It's taken very seriously and they [the firefighters] dedicate a lot of their spare time to it," said Ceara Owen-Perry, United Fire Brigades' Association (UFBA) events manager.

Morrinsville fire chief Brian Watters said it was a prestigious event.

"It's designed as a challenge . . . but at the end of it all, the competitive side of people comes out at the front end."


Silverdale fire brigade, from Auckland, took out the four-man event, while Tairua took out the two-man crown.

Matamata and Morrinsville finished second in the four-man and two-man challenges respectively.

Events such as replacing a burst length of hose and connecting, carrying and operating hoses and pumps are all done with maximum speed and care as part of a time-trial.

Penalties are handed out to teams that fail to comply with the strict guidelines for each task.

The chief executive of the UFBA, George Verry, said winning was a bonus for the teams that competed, but the real focus of the event was about learning and providing an opportunity for teams to refine their skills.

"Our members tell us that these are valuable opportunities to pick up new information that they can take back to their own brigades."

Mr Verry said on top of the excitment, building camaraderie with members of other fire brigades was an invaluable part of the competition.

Teams will now travel to Cromwell to compete in the national waterway challenge in March.