x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

UAE real-life heroes to test skills on fire in contest

Firemen hope to get a lift by competing against some of the world's best fire teams, learning new tricks and becoming real-life heroes.

UAE firemen hope to do well at the FireFit competition in Dubai in January.
UAE firemen hope to do well at the FireFit competition in Dubai in January.

DUBAI // Real-life heroes are working hard to get ready for the first international FireFit Championship to be held in the Middle East.

Firemen from several countries will gather in Dubai from January 16-18 to take part in an event that measures ability and fitness.

"This isn't just any competition" said Mohammed Hassan al Ahmadi, a former fire officer for Dubai Civil Defence and founder of the event. "The missions in the competition are very risky. It's the most professional fire-fighting championship."

Mr al Ahmadi conducted immense research and laid the groundwork before bringing the championship from Canada. Last year he took a team of firemen to compete in the championship in Montreal.

"I'm doing this competition, and my purpose is purely humanitarian" said Mr al Ahmadi. He explained that he was more concerned with preparing firemen than the sport, however.

"The most important weapon for fire-fighting is fitness. This championship will not only make the UAE's firemen compete, but it will make them progress in their work and become better at it. If they just sit at work waiting for a fire to happen they could hurt themselves in the fire."

The championship consists of four types of events, he added. "First are contests between individuals, where two competitors compete against each other; the second one is the relay, where every team has five firemen, and each firemen has a different task; the third event is the "2xG", where two firemen work on the task together while exchanging the breathing mask in turns; and the fourth event is the team contest, and this one is built on timing, so the winning team is the one that finishes the mission in the shortest time frame."

The championship also breaks down the tasks into six types: 'Stair Climb', 'Hose Hoist', 'Forcible Entry', 'Running', 'Hose Advance' and 'Victim Rescue'.

Mr al Ahmadi said: "Here the problem is that we have all the equipment for fire fighting and we have the best technologies for it, but our firemen need a lot of practice.

"Last year when we were training them for this competition, they [competed] against 40 to 50-year old firemen from Canada and they lost. Our firemen are only 20 to 30 years old. So they need a lot of training."

Hassan Abbas al Bloushi, a 26-year-old Dubai-based fireman said: "I went to Canada with Mr al Ahmadi and I saw their championship in action. I learnt from them the skills and techniques that I could use. I even understood what you can call 'between-the-lines tricks' that helped me improve in my job."

He added: "A lot of people do appreciate what we do, but some others think we just sit at work doing nothing and get a high salary for it."

Mr al Ahmadi's objective is to show the region that being a fireman is no easy task. People do not know what happens inside and how dangerous and life-risking it is being a fireman, he said.

"In Canada, firemen are called 'real-life heroes'; they walk around like celebrities because they're appreciated for what they do. Our firemen deserve that, too. After all, they risk their lives for us."

Ibrahim Kahmis al Mighewzi, 24 and a firemen in Abu Dhabi, echoed Mr al Bloushi's feelings. "We learnt and saw stuff we've never learnt about before. It's also nice that it gets firemen from around the Emirates together.

"People don't really know the dangers we face."

He added it was not until after people had gone through a fire that they understood and appreciated what was done for them.

"Now we hope people could watch and understand how dangerous our job is and what we go through as firemen."