Global firefighters highly impressed with UAE firefighters
Mental power is key to overcoming the body's exhaustion, say participants of the Fire Fighting Challenge at Adnec Exhibtion Centre in Abu Dhabi, on Tuesday, as they try to rescue a life-sized 80kg dummy. - Photo by Ryan Lim
Abu Dhabi - 300 participants from various countries take part in firefighter challenge.
Firefighters from around the world said they are highly impressed with the UAE's own firefighters, while also urging for a greater number of men and women to join the force.
The UAE's World Firefighter Challenge 2016 saw almost 300 participants from a whole spectrum of countries take part in incredibly hard-hitting challenges, revealing their toughest, yet most impressive skills.
The UAE team, comprising some of the finest members of civil defence, geared up to best their previous times.
They faced some of the world's roughest firefighters from 18 countries, including Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the US, Czech Republic, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania and Poland.
The challenges were linked in a series of grueling tasks which emulated real-life firefighting scenarios, including, climbing a five-storey tower, hoisting a 20kg hose, hitting a hydraulic beam with a mallet, advancing a full pressure hose and rescuing a life-sized 80kg dummy.
Not only were the tasks physically demanding, the courses had to be completed wearing the firefighting suit, which weighs over 20kg.
However, firefighters told Khaleej Times that it's mind over body, and that mental power is key to overcoming the body's exhaustion.
French firefighter, Vincent Heiligenstein said although he has been in the industry for over 30 years and has been competing for the past 10 years, he is highly impressed with the UAE team.
"UAE's firefighters are very tough, they have gone beyond my expectations," he added.
He noted it's vital for competitors from around the world to unite and represent their homelands.
Jamie McGarva, from Canada, said: "It's a good thing for us to show how physically fit we are and it's crucial to be ready for emergency situations." McGarva, who has been a firefighter for 12 years, said UAE's teams are in "great shape," adding that, "we all became one community."
Although the challenges are about the all-encompassing test of strength, fitness and endurance, UAE's heroes said that anything related to firefighting "goes right in the heart." Emirati firefighter, Ibrahim Ali, said he has been competing for the past five years, and despite the intense challenges, his team only had one month to train.
He reflected back on some of the greatest obstacles he faced during his career and the lives he saved, noting that strengthening one's body and skills is key.
"This sport is my passion and this job goes right to my heart," added the 26-year-old
Mohammed Hassan Al Ahmedi, CEO of 911 Firefighting Group, said although the event is a success, he hopes to see more take part in the exhilarating career.
"Having more firefighters join this force is crucial for us," he noted.
Veteran UAE Officer Hassan Ibrahim Al Balooshi, who was praised for saving the life of a photographer trapped in The Address Hotel Downtown Dubai fire on New Year's Eve, said: "It's not all about earning a great name, it's about doing your job." "This event helps me challenge myself and it trains me for future disasters, especially in high-rise buildings."
"We don't want anyone to think we can't face challenges. People might think UAE's firefighters just eat and sleep, so we are here to prove just how tough we are," said the 31 year old, who has been battling fires for 11 years.