During last year’s FireFit national championship in Ottawa, Thompson firefighter Darrick Graff placed sixth in the individual event and posted his best time yet by completing the multi-part obstacle course in 1:20.05.
Now that the 2018 national competition in Spruce Meadows, Alberta has been set for Sept. 5−9, Graff told the Thompson Citizen that it’s going to be an uphill battle to clear that threshold.
“I struggled to beat 90 seconds for a couple years and I finally broke that barrier. And now we’re up to the next hurdle,” said Graff, who started competing in these events for Thompson Fire & Emergency Services (TFES) back in 2011. “It’s a tough one. A lot of guys struggle. A lot of guys stay in that low 1:20 consistently, which I’m kind of doing now.”
In order to prepare for this upcoming competition, Graff has been sharpening his abilities by competing in events like the FireFit regionals in Winnipeg on June 16, where he clinched first place in the individual event with a time of 1:23.30.
Each FireFit participant completes a six-part obstacle course in full firefighting gear. This involves a 60-step stair climb, a 45-pound hose hoist, a forcible entry simulation, a 140-foot run, a 75-foot hose advance, and, finally, a victim rescue section involving a 165-pound dummy.
Even though he was happy with his recent performance on the course in Winnipeg, Graff admitted that he is concerned that he might have peaked in terms of his ability.
“It’s at that point where I don’t know how you get a whole lot faster when it comes down to hundredths of a second,” he said.
However, Graff has been trying to broaden his horizons when it comes to training, having recently competed in a team event for the first time in an American competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Additionally, some other members of TFES decided to compete alongside Graff at this year’s regionals in Winnipeg, which has allowed him to slide into more of a mentor role.
“[I teach them] a lot of the technique and stuff like that, what to expect and how to prepare, how to warm up for it. Things that they can work on and improve on,” said Graff, who was recently promoted to the rank of captain.
“I’m in a leadership role at work now, so it just kind of translates well to this too, being a mentor and stuff. I enjoy it. It’s nice to see other people meeting their goals and getting better.”
Graff is going to use the rest of the summer to tweak his technique and try to perfect the little things, since he said that’ll be his key to victory.
“Now it’s not a question of getting stronger, getting in better shape. It’s going to come down to a lot of the technical stuff.”