Smashing metal blocks with mallets, sprinting around fire hydrants, and running up stairs carrying hoses. It's all in a day's work for the average firefighter.
But the firefighters involved in these activities at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre yesterday were far beyond average. They were competing at the 2012 UAE Fire Fighting Championships as part of the 5th International Resilience Exhibition and Conference.
The challenging competition put contestants through six tasks. First they had to climb four-storeys carrying a hose, after which they needed to haul the rest of the 20kg hose up with them. Then they carried out a simulated wall removal by smashing a metal block with a mallet. Then it was on to a zigzagged sprint around fire hydrants, then pulling a fully pressurised hose and firing its water on to a target. Finally, they had to drag an 80kg dead weight dummy past the finish line.
More than one collapsed before completing the course.
One of those who did finish was Abdul Malik Aburaya, an Emirati whose 45 years made him the oldest competitor.
"It's a tough course that requires intense training," said Mr Aburaya, an Al Ain firefighter with 23 years of experience. "Even the fittest of firefighters had problems with the course.
"They hold the competition during the hottest part of the day to simulate the tough conditions we have to face in our line of work."
Regardless of the conditions, Mr Aburaya posted a very respectable time of 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
"Stamina and making sure not to expend all your energy in the beginning is key," said Ahmed Aseriedi, a 23-year-old Emirati. The Fujairah firefighter, who was taking part in his fifth competition during three years in the job, said the competition required a particular toughness. "You are carrying over 20kg of equipment on you. The boots alone weigh 4kg."
Majid Ahmed Khalifa, a 23-year-old Egyptian working with AssetCo, an international fire and rescue service business, held one of the best times of the day with a 1 minute 54 seconds. "We only had seven days to train for this competition. The challenging nature of it demonstrates what we as firefighters must face in our demanding jobs," he said.
The Emirati firefighter Ahmed Elwan was the top finisher with a time of 1 minute and 45 seconds.
Today is the last day of the conference.