Firefighters from around world endure 'brutal' heat at challenge
PUBLISHED: 13:16 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:23 27 July 2018
Firefighters from around the world have endured searing heat on the first day of an annual challenge being held in west Suffolk.
The British Firefighter Challenge is taking place today and tomorrow at the Arc shopping centre car park in Bury St Edmunds, and participants from as far away as India have flown in to compete.
With temperatures around the 32C/33C (89-91F) mark – and competitors in full kit – the firefighters have faced gruelling conditions on the first day of the two-day event.
Individual firefighters in various age categories take on different challenges, including the stair ascent, hose haul, container carry and casualty rescue.
There is also a team relay event, which will take place tomorrow afternoon.
Around 240 firefighters are taking part from places such as Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Malta.
Matt Coulthard, 39, from Gibraltar, who was last year’s British champion, said: “The heat is absolutely brutal.
“Firefighters suffer from heat exhaustion in full kit on a normal day, so this is going to be a nightmare.
“I’m last on tomorrow before the team relay, but I can’t wait.”
Thousands of spectators are expected to visit the Arc car park over the two days, with the event raising money for The Firefighters Charity.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service made a bid to host the event last year to bring it to Bury.
Wil Tel, district commander for the west at Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said the event demonstrates the dedication of firefighters.
“It is fantastic, I think it showcases what the fire service is all about,” he said. “The physicality, people’s perseverance, their character, their willingness to go that extra mile.
“We have had people struggling, the heat is excessive today, there’s nothing we can do to control it but what we have done is we’ve got a lot of provision in place.
“We’ve got the East of England Ambulance Service, St John Ambulance, we’ve got specific methods to deal with people if they are struggling.
“But it’s a fantastic event, which we couldn’t have done without the help of some of our key sponsors, Bury Town Council, SCG security, a number of big players.
“The event is growing year-on-year.”