Being a volunteer firefighter in Wellesley Township isn’t just about responding to calls when they come in, it is about staying fit and being the best you can be.
Madison Lavigne from Linwood has taken that message to heart, competing, yet again, in the FireFit Championships.
Last year, Lavigne was part of the third-place team at the national competition, but this year, she is competing on her own, a venture she says presents new challenges. She and Ryan Dosman, another volunteer firefighter with the township, will be heading to Wasaga Beach this weekend to see if their training has paid off.
“Things are a little bit different this year, but I am still running,” she said. “Doing the whole thing is different. There is a lot of cardio and strength training at the same time. Usually you would just focus on the section that you were designated to for the relay, but now you are trying to practice to do the whole thing. We are doing a lot. It is just more.”
The competition has firefighters from across the province putting their skills to the test. In full firefighting gear, competitors will be running up flights of stairs while carrying a fire hose, then down six flights with a hose, carrying a 175-pound dummy, and more – all while being timed.
Lavigne says that it isn’t just about the physical feats of strength, but also getting to meet other firefighters and put the Wellesley Township name out there among other fire departments.
“It is a lot of networking, getting my name and fire department out into the industry. We are going to Wasaga Beach, we are going to Port Elgin, nationals this year is in Calgary, so if we make it there, we will be able to represent our community,” she said, adding that all the physical training will also help her in her job as a firefighter. “It is about bettering ourselves and for the community. If I wasn’t able to do it myself, then I wouldn’t be doing the job. I want to help give them a good name. It is all firefighters, and it is networking. The brotherhood is a real thing, I can tell you that.”
The community has also banded together to help pay for the trip to Wasaga, and the next one to Port Elgin. Lavigne is thankful and will do what she can to help get those company names out as well.
“Unfortunately, our department doesn’t have money for this in the budget, but we like to get the community onboard and let them know what we are doing. We aren’t just at the fire station. We are also trying to better ourselves for them too,” she said.
The competition starts up on Friday July 1 in Wasaga Beach with a walk through of the course so firefighters can get an idea of what they are in for. Then the competing begins on July 2 with individual competitors taking to the course trying to get the best time they can.
Lavigne will be heading to Port Elgin on July 15 to do it all over again and qualify for nationals.
The national FireFit competition in Calgary is in the fall, running from Sept. 14 to 18.