One for all, all for one. Gerd Müller laughs and corrects himself: “one for all, all for the team!” He has been involved in FireFit since the very beginning and is an integral part of the HAIX WILD 50s. The men by his side are Ralf Sikorra, Dietmar Kirsch, Heiko Gehrke and Magnus Hirschfeld, who has replaced founding member Andreas Schröder. Together, they are the team with which HAIX entered the world of FireFit sponsoring eight years ago.
They always say that 46 is too old for sport. But Ralf Sikorra has other ideas when it comes to the athletic prowess of the HAIX Wild 50s: “Suddenly, this bunch of fifty-year-olds showed up and outran competitors twenty years younger.” They are virtually undefeated in their own age range, regularly take the top spot in competitions and collect titles and medals like others collect stamps or air miles. European champion, world champion, world record holder. Every single one of them holds a title, gained either in individual or team competitions.
If you think the Wild 50s adhere to the Olympic motto, you’re wrong. We’re sitting in Magnus Hirschfeld’s clinic in Seesen, Germany. In the background, Gerd Müller is running on the treadmill, fully decked out in his firefighting gear. His first target is the twelve-hour distance world record, then he cracks the 24-hour one. “FireFit meets records” is the motto of this event, which the team initiated themselves. As many as 13 world records are cracked this weekend. All donations and proceeds from cake sales go to charity. Physiotherapist, chiropractor and naturopath Magnus looks after his teammates’ physical and mental well-being. To keep Gerd motivated, Ralf regularly joins him on a parallel treadmill for an hour at a time. Later, Gerd will say the following about his Wild 50s: “As long as one or two make it through the competition, the whole team wins.” Their teamwork and fighting spirit in the “toughest two minutes in sports,” as the FireFit competitions are known, is what makes the Wild 50s so unique, along with their uncompromising loyalty to one another. With their exemplary attitude, they are excellent role models for all generations of their community. All for the team – this is just as important in the fire department as it is in the police and the rescue services. And competitive sport is a perfect way of reinforcing and practicing it.
Loyalty, Trust, Respect
“Those are the values we aim to live by,” says Ralf Sikorra. Once, during a competition in Poland, the referees made a mistake. Although he had been the faster competitor, they gave the top time to Dietmar. “If it had been someone else, I would’ve been quite annoyed,” the Leverkusen native admits. “But this way, it stayed within the team.” The Wild 50s are all firefighters. All five of them are completely dedicated to the job, volunteers as well as full-timers. Ralf, who has been working for Bayer for eons, started out as a metalworker. He applied to the fire service of the company, then still called Bayer Industry Services, and worked his way up the ladder. His new job is at the safety center of Currenta GmbH, where he is responsible for keeping the three factories in Uerdingen, Leverkusen and Dormagen safe. Ralf’s teammates sometimes call him “the politician”, as he always makes an effort to understand everyone. He explains that living by these values is not always easy, but they are essential for him and his team.
Before his age forced him to retire, Gerd Müller, a professional chef, spent 35 years as a firefighter at the US air base in Spangdahlem, Germany. The former district chief still works on the base. Today, he holds the position of supply technician for the 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, and he is a volunteer firefighter to boot. “Gerd is our action man,” Ralf explains. It was Gerd who came up with the idea of the Wild 50s in 2013. Dietmar Kirsch is a high-ranking member of his local fire department. The supervisor at the fire department of the German Armed Forces in Warnemünde was the first team member to become an individual world champion. Heiko Gehrke is a professional firefighter and paramedic working with the Neubrandenburg fire department. Magnus Hirschfeld is the only team member whose career is unrelated to firefighting. Whenever the volunteer brigade of his home town of Seesen is called out to a fire, he joins them. The platoon leader and head of the fire prevention committee is responsible for eleven fire departments in the town association. Even though the five team members are scattered across the country, they frequently get together for competitions. The team works well because every member knows that they can completely rely on the others. Many others appreciate this integrity in the men: their friends and close acquaintances all over the world, their supporting fans, and their sponsors, who identify with their values. These old boys are certainly on the same wavelength. “Three from the west, two from the east”, as they say, all bound together by unwavering loyalty.