Female firefighters steal the show in Firefighter Games, Kootenay teams take all three top spots
Area firefighters did the West Kootenay proud at the Third Annual International Firefighter Games in Pass Creek Sept. 3 and 4, with the Nelson team taking first place, Blewett taking second and Castlegar owning third, despite competing against 23 teams from as far away as Sechelt and Half Moon Bay.
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this year’s games, though, was a team who took 18th place, the Passmore Hosettes.
The first-ever and only all-female team, the Hosettes were unquestionably a crowd favourite.
“One third (seven out of 21) of our members are female,” said Passmore Fire Chief Gord Ihlen. “I’m very proud of both our teams.
“But in terms of the all-female team, I think they broke some barriers down that weekend – it was incredible to watch,” he added. “The ‘No Surrender’ type of attitude they had really showed.
“I think the door has been kicked down, and I don’t think it’s going to close again.”
Congratulations to Erica Breau, Christina Federick, Kim Daley and Peggy Frith from Passmore Fire Department and Gretchen Bonegardener from Winlaw Fire Department.
Meanwhile, the Castlegar and Ootischenia fire chiefs said they were impressed by the all-women team, and also really proud of their own efforts.
“I’m super-proud of our team, they did excellent,” said Castlegar Chief Gerry Rempel. “We also had volunteers judging and taking care of the Kid Zone, and our team won the MaydayMaydayMayhem with the fastest time (one minute, 28.44 seconds).
Ootischenia Fire Chief George Hamm said this is the first year his department has been able to participate, and they went all out, sending two full teams to the games.
“We talked about it last year, but we weren’t comfortable with the numbers we had at the time – but we’re at 19 or 20 members now,” he said. “It was a good time,and a great chance for them to take all of their hard work and training and really apply it.”
One Oots team finished in 20th place and the other tied for 13.
The fire department hosting the games, Robson, finished in sixth place, and shared some exciting news about the future of IFG.
“It’s easy to look around and see we’re on to something good here,” said spokesman Dustin LePage. “So we’re going to bring our team to the road and help other communities set up their own games.”
He said Sechelt has already taken them up on the offer, and will be hosting games out at the coast on Canada Day next summer with the help of seasoned Robson organizers, before coming back here for the Robson games on the Labour Day long weekend.
LePage said it’s excellent training and a lot of fun – but ultimately, the most important part of the games is raising money and awareness for Muscular Dystrophy, a cause near and dear to the hearts of firefighters across the country (for more information about MD, visit http://www.muscle.ca/get-involved/fire-fighters/ ).