20 You can join as an individual, in tandem or in a relay with three to five teammates. The relay is ideal for athletic individuals with a new interest in FireFit. It requires a solid team spirit. You can hear your comrades cheer you on as you run. The breathing apparatus is loosely draped over your shoulder – the mask and hose connector stay behind. For experienced competitors, the individual run is the ultimate challenge – with the breathing apparatus fully engaged, it takes an incredible effort. As well as speed, the tandem comes down to dexterity, as you need to be adept at passing the breathing apparatus to your partner at the half-way mark. When you reach the top of the twelve-meter tower, you don’t get a chance to take in the view. Instead, you drag another fire hose up the stairs before you rush back down towards the next station. “Faster! Faster!” The chants of the audience ring in your ears as your hammer tirelessly moves the cylinder of the Force Machine forwards, inch by inch. The referee claps his hands. Time to keep sprinting. The slalom is almost relaxing in comparison, but at its finish, a filled fire hose awaits – you’ll be dragging it along for another 23 meters. Finally, you reach the door frame. Water on! You direct the jet pipe at the target. FITNESS, A FORM OF LIFE INSURANCE The competition mirrors the real work of a firefighter on the job: climbing stairs, carrying hoses, opening locked doors, saving lives and extinguishing flames. For 27 years, the FireFit Championships have been taking place in Canada, with the first German edition following in 2016. During firefighting missions that require self-contained breathing apparatuses, your own health can become your life insurance. That is why FireFit was developed not just for extreme athletes but for regular firefighters, too. The stations take competitors to their physical limit, just like real firefighting operations. FireFit is a challenge at every THE ULTIMATE SPORT SPECTACLE: level, mental as well as physical, and it is important to know your limits, especially when using a breathing apparatus. A firefighter can always take a break in open-air training, but in a smoke-filled hall, that’s not an option. After the fire extinction station, you reach the end of the red-and-yellow obstacle course, where the final boss awaits: Dummy Randy. You use the rescue maneuver and, moving backwards, drag the 80-kilogram dummy towards the goal. On the final 30 meters, you have to grit your teeth and keep going: don’t drop the dummy, as picking it back up will drain your strength. You cross the finish line. The dummy drops on the mat. You’ve made it. No matter if you are on your own or in tandem, in a relay or a team, a man or a woman, a spring chicken or an oldie – once you cross the finishing line, you’re a hero. Text Julia Simon Photos Hanno Meier Full focus, turn on the water and extinguish the target fire