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Firefighters work with NAIT on training regime

A St. Albert firefighter has climbed a rung up the fitness ladder with help from NAIT.

A St. Albert firefighter has climbed a rung up the fitness ladder with help from NAIT.

First class firefighter-paramedic Jim Hill and several other firefighters have spent the last several months training with students from the personal fitness training program at NAIT. Hill and his colleagues have competed in several combat challenge events, and he and one other St. Albert firefighter plan to attend the national competition in Brampton, Ont.

In the contest, firefighters begin by climbing a six-storey tower with a 19-kilogram hose pack that they must drop into a box at the top. They must then use a rope to haul another hose pack up the side of the tower. On the run back down they have to hit every one of the 60 steps or risk a penalty.

The competitors then simulate chopping down a door using a mallet, run 43 metres weaving through pylons, and then drag a fully charged fire hose 75 ft. to spray a target.

The last step involves dragging a 75-kg dummy 31 metres.

Hill said the challenge is a fun way to encourage firefighters to stay fit and compete against each other, but it’s also good training.

“If I did have to break down a door now, I would probably be a lot more confident.”

NAIT students and graduates designed the training program for the firefighters, which is focused on mimicking the tasks in the challenge. Hill said it is much improved over the workout firefighters were following previously.

“When they came in, the program became organized, and we are about six weeks into it and it is definitely showing in our results.”

A “world-class time” for the challenge is something under 90 seconds. Hill usually wracks up a time somewhere between 90 and 105 seconds, but he said that’s improved.

“There have been time differences. It has shaved about 10 seconds off my time and hopefully we will be down another six or seven by nationals.”

Randy Dreger, an instructor with the NAIT program said working with the firefighters has been really interesting for the students.

“They get a great learning experience. There are very few people who have the opportunity to work with firefighters in this kind of setting.”

Dreger said the students and graduates of the NAIT program studied the challenge and structured a program specific to firefighters’ needs.

“They were doing traditional resistance and gym training, what you would see at any kind of fitness centre.”

He said the new training regiment has the firefighters doing very specific routines and training in their firefighting gear.

Hill said it is much better than the old way of training.

“A lot of what we were doing before was just trying to build muscle with the expectation that with more muscle would come more strength,” he said. “There was no organization to what we were doing before.”

The challenge takes place from Sept. 2 to 5.

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