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Weyburn firefighter competes in FireFit competition

“I never want to feel like I filled a role or was given some type of advantage simply because I’m a female – I want the opportunity to prove myself just like anyone else," said Katelyn Gateman.

WEYBURN - Firefighter Katelyn Gateman recently competed in FireFit, a firefighting championship, which was held in Regina on August 27.

“Originally I had planned on just going to watch the competition to get a feel for it. However, the day before I had a gut feeling that I knew I’d regret not giving it a try so I ended up signing up at the very last minute,” said Gateman.

“When I arrived the morning of the competition, what I discovered was this whole community of people who are focused on pushing themselves and encouraging each other – it was an incredible atmosphere to be a part of.”

“I figured there’s no time like the present – why not give it a go? I have a natural competitive spirit and a lot of drive – I’m passionate about fitness and have deep roots in the fire service, so this is really a perfect amalgamation of those,” said Gateman.

“Although I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, I know that with the proper training I will come back better next time and I look forward to that.”

FireFit is an international sport, and this was the first time it had been held in Regina. The competition is based on fire-fighting tasks commonly performed in emergency situations. It’s comprised of the following tasks: 1 - Stair climb: Carry a 42 lb. pack up six flights of stairs; 2 - Hose hoist: Hoist a 45 lb. role of hose from the bottom up to the top of the tower, and heading back down; 3 - Forcible entry: Chopping simulator where a mallet is used to move a beam five feet back; 4 - Run: A zigzag 140-foot run around hydrants then pick up a charged hose line; 5 - Hose advance: shoulder a 45mm hose line 75 feet and hit a target at the end; 6 - Victim rescue: drag a 180 lb. mannequin backwards a distance of 100 feet.

All the tasks are completed in full firefighting gear, including being on air.

“Having only learned the specifics of the course the day before, I’m really eager to start practicing these regularly to improve for next year,” said Gateman.

There was one aspect of the FireFit challenge that was very important to Gateman. “I think the fact that men and women participate in the very same course is really a key element. Although there were far less females competing versus males, I think it shines an important light on the fact that if you can do the job then you absolutely deserve a spot.”

“I never want to feel like I filled a role or was given some type of advantage simply because I’m a female – I want the opportunity to prove myself just like anyone else.”

“Although I didn’t feel 100 per cent confident going into the competition, I’m happy that I simply showed up and gave it my all,” added Gateman. “I met a number of amazing people and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this community, which I previously knew nothing about.”

The first Canadian National FireFit competition was held August 1994. With the success of the Pacific National Exhibition event, seven FireFit events were held coast to coast in 1995 with over 715 competitors from more than 105 fire departments.

The popularity of the FireFit Competition has grown and grown over the past 25 years and includes every province in Canada.

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