by Hannah MacLeod
Grace Brousseau, of Kincardine, recently travelled to Calgary, Alberta, for the Canadian and Worldwide FireFit Championships, where she placed second in Canada and third in the world with her team-mate Alyssa Zirul.
Brousseau attend Lambton College in Sarnia, where she graduated from Pre-Service Firefighting education and training in 2020 and the Fire Science Technology program in 2021. She is currently in her first year of the paramedic program at Lambton College.
“Lambton College has a FireFit team and it is something I knew I wanted to participate in since 2019 when I started fire school,” said Brousseau. “Unfortunately, that is the year COVID started and the 2020 and 2021 season were cancelled due to COVID. When I decided to go back to school for paramedic this year, the coaches, Sue Patrick and Shane Bettridge, reached out to me when they heard I was coming back and asked if I would like to be on the 2022 team.”
To compete in FireFit, you have to either be a college student who has completed or is enrolled in Pre-Service Firefighting at a college that has a team, or you have to be a firefighter on a department, either volunteer or full time.
“The FireFit course is by far the most challenging thing I have done,” said Brousseau. “For an individual run, you complete the course in full bunker gear and SCBA, breathing on air. You start the course at the stair climb, carrying a 42-pound hose bundle up 40 feet or 60 steps on stairs on your shoulder. When you get to the top of the tower, you drop the hose bundle and begin to hoist a donut roll of hose up the 40-foot tower on a rope.”
“Next, you run down the stairs and at the bottom, you get to the forcible entry simulator, where you use a hammer to simulate forcing entry,” she continued. “Next, you run 140 feet through cones to the hose advancement. At the hose advancement, you put a charged hose line on your shoulder and drag it 75 feet and open up the nozzle to knock down a target. Last but not least, you finish with the 175-pound mannequin drag 100 feet to the finish line.”
These are timed races, beside another firefighter. Brousseau’s top time for an individual run was three minutes and 26 seconds.
There are also races called Tech2s where one partner completes the first half of the course and the other partner does the second, with a SCBA bottle exchange at the switch off, and relays where a team of three or more people compete the course, each doing a certain part.
“This course is extremely challenging and takes a large amount of physical fitness and mental toughness to push through and finish,” Brousseau explained.
The Lambton College FireFit team trained for two hours three nights a week preparing for their competitions. This summer, they had five competitions in St. Catharines, Windsor, Sarnia, Oshawa, and finally Calgary, for the Canadian and Worlds FireFit Championships. There were eight competitors on the team, with two coaches.
“My favorite memories from FireFit were bonding with my teammates and watching them all progress over the summer,” said Brousseau. “The whole team was so dedicated, and we became such a close family.”
“Another great memory was being able to race against the Bruce Power women’s relay team in Calgary,” she continued. “It was such an amazing experience meeting and racing against their team. I completed a co-op with the firefighters at Bruce Power in high school and that is what made me realize I wanted to become firefighter and why I am so passionate about it.”
Brousseau says that all eight of her team members had an extremely successful season.
“In Sarnia, Alyssa Zirul and I placed first in the women’s Tech2 races,” she began. “In Windsor, Alyssa and I placed first in the women’s Tech2 races and Nick Gutierrezz and I placed second in the mixed Tech2 races. In Oshawa, Alyssa and I placed second in the women’s Tech2 races.”
Finally, in Calgary, Zirul and Brousseau placed second in Canada and third in the world for the women’s Tech2 races, as well as first in the world championships in a women’s relay team with Alyssa Zirul, Mallory Lory, and Monica Hickey.
“Overall, FireFit was one of the best experiences of my life,” Brouseeau concluded. “I was fortunate enough to meet so many amazing firefighters from all over the world and bond with my teammates who I will now forever consider family. I am also grateful for FireFit as it has put me in the best shape of my life and has taught me how physically and mentally strong I am. I cannot wait to compete again in the 2023 season.”