Practice pays off for Wyndham team

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Bull's-eye. . . Wyndham Volunteer fire brigade two person team members Mark Breed (left) and Rodney Leitch encourage four person team member Saralee Gutsell as she hits the target with a stream of water at the United Fire Brigades’ Association’s South Island Waterway Chal lenge at Mataura on Saturday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Doing the hard yards has paid off for three Wyndham Volunteer Fire Brigade members.

Firefighters Mark Breed, Rodney Leitch and Frank de Jong came first in the two-person team competition (for which a squad of three people is allowed) in the United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand’s (UFBA) South Island Waterway Challenge on Saturday.

The challenge, which attracted 38 competitors from as far afield as Greymouth, was held in Mataura.

Kaitangata won the four-person teams event.

Wyndham Fire Chief James Walker said the men had been practising for the past few years.

“They’ve been been putting in the hard yards and got some reward at the weekend.”

The men were “over the moon” with the win, he said.

UFBA official Jason Prendergast said the challenge tested how fast and efficiently firefighters could attach hoses to a water hydrant or connect to a water source and get the water to a fire.

The Waterway Challenge was one of four events the association ran, he said.

“All these events are designed to make our firefighters better firefighters [so]when the community calls we are there to serve the community as best we can.”

Mossburn Volunteer Fire Brigade senior firefighters Jeff Manson (56) and Stephen Trusler (48) won the two-person event last year and finished second in the national competition.

Mr Manson said he had been competing in the event for about 30 years.

It was “the challeng to win, to compete and to be with our fellow firefighters” that kept him coming back year after year.

” Everyones striving to be better than they they were last week.

“What we do and learn here we take it to the fire ground.”

He had also made many friends as he travelled the country taking part in the competition, he said.