Friday, August 12, 2016

What's the TFA? Dateline; Torun, Poland

Zbigniew Rasielewski, Deputy Mayor, Torun
In a nutshell, it's the Toughest Firefighter Alive. Unlike the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, the four stages are built around the assets of the host.

For example, in Torun, the first evolution involved rolling up hose and dragging sections of LDH for time.

Another station included moving huge Jerry cans up and over obstacles, then crawing across wood spans and dragging Rescue Randys around pylons.

A third station involved moving straight ladders to the tower and positioning them for climbing, then carrying very heavy weights up the Challenge tower. The last of the four exercises was can only be called an "ass kicker."

I was invited to do a celebrity run against the deputy mayor of Torun. Thinking that this had to be a cake walk, I said, "Sure, why not?" I thought that this was more of a celebrity photo-op kind of thing. Then, "Can you do it in gear?"
The 450m Hose Shuffle

"Sure." So, I got sized for a bunker coat; that fit. Then held up the pants. "Yeah, that'll do. What about boots?" Brand new structural boots. "What size?"

Forty-one. Umm. "Let me try them on." Depending upon brand, 42, but, without socks, they'll work. Robert loaned me his helmet.

At this point, I haven't even asked what we're going to do.

Approaching the Finish
So, it's Saturday morning, and they'll telling me that we need to get ready. The Deputy Mayor looks like he just walked off the Soccer pitch. He's 6’6”, 30 years my junior and about 8% body fat. Alright.

I get into my gear, only to find out that the pants are flannel lined and they don't fit. But, they have suspenders. I'm ready to go. No, wait. You've got to wear a SCBA and this tank is about 40 pounds. Where's a Scott Air-Pak when you need one. Now, I'm set. "What this all about?"

Well, you're going to pick up two bundles of attack line and run 450 meter to Town Hall.

On Top with the Deputy Mayor

So, we're off. "Don't wait for me," I say to my comrade. But he does. I plod along, nodding to the many spectators who are taking photos and cheering us on.

Upon arriving at the Town Hall, we jettison the hose. Now, climb the tower. I have no clue as to how tall this building is and don't want to look up. So, we start into the stairwell. After what should have been the top of the FCC Tower, I ask, "How much farther?"

Dirk Fuhrman joins me at the top
"One more flight." and then "One more flight" and then "One more flight."

Janusz Wozniak, Chief Officer in the District
provided me with photos and video-
and encouragement

One of the rewards for all the hard work
The Tower is 69 meters tall. When I bust out onto the balcony the view of this ancient city is breathtaking- not that I'm not already breathing hard. I suck down as much water as they have available and spend the next 20 minutes checking out the view.

All in all, it was worth it. Next year, however, I'm going to do a little more stairclimbing training.

Torun's Fire Chief Kazimierz Stafiej
presented me with a
limited edition of a Polish beverage

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