Fire fighters will be out to set a blistering pace this weekend when 50 brigades and an estimated 2000 spectators converge for an event in Bendigo.
Competitors from Western Australia are already beginning to arrive for the Annual Victorian Urban Fire Brigades Championships, which are to be held at the R F Turner Competition Track in Napier Street from Saturday.
They and counterparts from Victoria will compete in a range of track and marching events.
Kangaroo Flat Fire Brigade’s Jackson Dargaville will be there searching for his eighth individual championship ladder race title in a row.
“I’ve got a passion for it. I train five nights a week across the course of five months,” Mr Dargaville said.
“It’s the sort of event that you find comes down to tenths or one hundredths of a second. You are trying to find that time wherever you can.”
Competitors will run 30 yards and surge up a seven metre ladder in about 6.5 seconds and wins will contribute towards his brigade’s overall team score.
Last year, Mr Dargaville’s winning time was 6.36 seconds.
That is feat he is hoping to get close to again. His training regime targets power, strength and speed. It also hones technique.
“It’s hard to explain, but the technique training is largely about the speed at which you hit the ladder, and about continuing that momentum to allow you to climb as fast as possible. Then you come off the top and finish your run,” Mr Dargaville said.
He encouraged people to come to the free events this weekend.
“Across the weekend there will be different events run every day. All sorts of fire fighting skills will be on display,” Mr Dargaville said.
“Many people say they don’t know much about our sport. To really experience it you’ve just got to come down and have a look.”
Organising committee media manager Wayne Pattison said individual and team track events required a great deal of fitness, fire fighting finesse and sporting capacity.
“This has always been a recruiting ground for career fire fighters,” he said.
“It teaches how to use equipment, even if it has been adapted for competition. It teaches them how to act under the pressure of a stopwatch. That’s a great pressure point for them.”
As well as the competition, Mr Pattison said there would be a torchlight procession followed by live music in Bull Street on Saturday night.