Thompson firefighters keeping the FireFit spark alive

Thompson Fire & Emergency Services (TFES) members Dee-Anne Seward and Nathan Preyma recently returned from the 2019 FireFit Southern Prairie Regionals, which took place June 8-9 in Calgary.

Although neither firefighter was completely satisfied with their performance, they both did well enough to qualify for the FireFit nationals that are happening this upcoming fall.

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Seward actually clocked in a new personal best time by completing the six-part obstacle course in 3:23:55, which is a minute and 20 seconds faster than her run at last year’s regional competition in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, Preyma’s time suffered because of a freak accident, where the 42-pound hose bundle he was tasked with carrying to the top of a 40-foot tower wasn’t secured properly and plummeted to the ground, almost hitting him in the process.

“It came barrelling down and missed me by about two feet and it could have killed me,” said Preyma. “It tripped me up halfway in between my race and my race was ruined from there.”

He ended up finishing the course in 2:24:46, which is nine seconds slower than his time last year.

Regardless of their personal performances, the pair said they are still big fans of the FireFit competition and that there is an addictive quality to working on improving your time.

“Once you get going it’s kind of tough to stop,” said Preyma. “You always want to push yourself and do better. You may be racing someone else, but you’re kind of racing yourself.”

Seward said training plays a big part in this process, since she and Preyma do their best to replicate the FireFit course here at home, including the 60-step stair climb, 45-pound hose hoist, forcible entry simulation, 140-foot run, 75-foot hose advance and 165-pound dummy drag.

“We’ll bring a lot of our equipment to the TRCC and run stairs,” she said. “And then another time during the week we have to take everything from the [fire] hall and bring it out to the parking lot.”

The pair credit former TFES member Darrick Graff for getting them interested in FireFit originally.

Since he’s been competing in this event since 2010, Graff served as a mentor for Seward and Preyma throughout the past couple years and continues to support them even after leaving the Thompson fire department last year.

“He’s been one of the pioneers for FireFit in Thompson,” said Preyma, noting that Graff represented Edmonton Fire Rescue Services in this year’s regionals.

“Even when we saw him out in Calgary he was cheering us on and wishing us the best.”

Throughout the rest of the summer, Seward and Preyma said they’re going to continue training and hopefully sharpen their technique before nationals come around.

Preyma wants to work on his dead lifts and squats while Seward said she needs to improve her dummy-dragging technique, since this portion of the race gives her the most trouble.

Even though Preyma might be transferring to the Winnipeg fire department in the fall, he and Seward said they will definitely be involved with FireFit for the foreseeable future.

“I encourage everyone in our profession and the general public to try FireFit,” he said. “There’s a reason why they call it the toughest two minutes in sports. It’s very physically demanding. It pushes you to lengths that you didn’t even think were possible … but with a bit of time and effort, anything is possible.”

The FireFit World & Canadian National Championships is taking place Sept. 11-15 in Oshawa, Ontario.

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