Bloem firefighters battle it out

The Mangaung Fire and Rescue College in Bayswater during a past training session. The fitness and endurance challenge will simulate the conditions fire fighters face during a crisis. PHOTO: ANDRÉ GROBLER

Putting out fires is about a lot more than turning on a hose and blasting the flames with water. Fire rescue workers have to have a fitness and endurance level that can handle the challenge. The fire rescue departments in Mangaung have decided to challenge each other to show who have the most endurance and who are the fittest, while also raising awareness about the work they do.

De Wet Benadie, SANDF Fire Station Commander, said that because they never really get together with other firefighters, unless it’s during a crisis, there really isn’t a sense of comradery as they don’t really know each other. “So the Fire Chief for the Mangaung Fire Department and I came up with an idea where we as the fire services of the greater Bloemfontein area are having a sort of competition against each other. This will also show residents what we endure and how fit we have to be to ensure we can do our jobs to our best ability.”

De Wet Benadie, SANDF Fire Station Commander. PHOTO: SEITHATI SEMENOKANE

The challenge will test both fitness and endurance. “The big chiefs who sit in the office will do the challenge in regular gym gear. Then, from the fire chief downwards, they will do the challenge in their full bunker gear as is done in an emergency, with the big cylinders on the back,” Benadie said.

The fire services taking part in the challenge will be: ASB Bloemfontein Fire and Rescue, Air Force Base Bloemspruit Fire and Rescue, Mangaung Fire and Rescue, Airports Company South Africa Fire and Rescue and Working on Fire.

The fire service will have the following categories with one member for each category: Grand Chief, Fire Chief, Station Commander, Crew Leader and Fireman.
Benadie explained, “The challenge will be done in intervals with two and a half minutes on a gym machine, followed by 30-second rest periods. Competitors will start with an optical walker, which simulates the normal walking speed on any emergency scene. Then they will go on the mechanical stair climber which simulates climbing stairs in a multi-floor building and after that they will move on to the arm pedal machine simulating working with axes and hammers.

“This is followed by cycling, which simulates high stress resistance. Then they go to the treadmill, which simulates walking on the emergency area not under control, followed by the bobsled which simulates pushing a trolley with equipment or patients. Next they will move on to the rope puller, simulating pulling in of ropes over pulleys, ending off with dead lifts which stimulate lifting equipment.”

The challenge will take place on 2 November 2019 at the Virgin Active Health Club at Northridge Mall which has pledged its support by supplying the venue for the challenge as well as offering its fitness staff to work as referees.
To help out the firefighters with sponsors, not for money, but rather for services for that day, email

Seithati Semenokane