The toughest two minutes in pro spor t s
Ever since he was a kid, Jimmy Ivanski dreamed of being a fireman. What his younger self didn’t know then was that Ivanski would not be just fighting fires and helping save lives.
Ever since he was a kid, Jimmy Ivanski dreamed of being a fireman. What his younger self didn’t know then was that Ivanski would not be just fighting fires and helping save lives. He would endure the ultimate challenge of strength and speed which makes even pro football players weep.
“They call it ‘the toughest two minutes in sports’,” a smiling Ivanski explained during a sit-down interview at the Embrun Tim Hortons.
The 35-yearold volunteer firefighter grinned before going to describe the FireFit Challenge Championships.
The FireFit Challenge is a series of strength, speed and stamina simulations of the situations that firefighters everywhere may encounter during a call-out.
The maximum time limit allowed to complete the challenge is two minutes. One second more and the participating firefighter has lost the challenge.
“We all call it the Five Stages of Pain,” Ivanski said, grinning.
First is the six-storey tower run. A fire- fighter wearing 60 pounds worth of full “bunker gear”, from boots to helmet, hoists a 50-pound hose pack, and stair-runs up a six-storey scaffold to the top. From there he does a hose hoist, hauling another hose pack up to the top of the scaffold. Then he runs back down to the bottom where “the Kaiser” awaits.
This device is a simple metal block set on runners and attached to a piston.
Intended to simulate a “forcible entry” situation, the firefighter must hammer away at the block with a sledge, moving the block back on the runners. But it is not that easy, thanks to the piston.
“It takes 400 pounds of pressure to hit it and move it,” Ivanski said. “The harder you hit, the faster you hit, the sooner it moves.”
After shifting the Kaiser, the next task is a run to the hose advance event, which involves pulling a high-pressure hose 75 feet and then take aim at a target.
The goal is to score a bullseye because anything less than a direct hit means taking a two-second penalty on the final time.
Anyone who misses accepts the penalty because there’s no time to waste with just two minutes to complete the challenge.
Last event is “Rescue Randy”, which means backwards dragging a 175-pound
“They call it ‘the toughest two minutes in sports’,” a smiling Ivanski explained during a sit-down interview at the Embrun Tim Hortons. The 35-year-old volunteer firefighter grinned before going to describe the FireFit Challenge Championships.
practice rescue dummy 100 feet to the finish. No fireman’s lift is allowed here.
An exhausted firefighter has to deal with the friction of the drag along with his or her tired and aching muscles.
Ivanski has been a FireFit Challenge competitor for eight years since he joined the Embrun volunteer force a decade ago.
He grins as he recalls seeing on Facebook an NFL pro football player who was convinced to take on the challenge one time. “He could barely make it.”
This month, Ivanski is off to Calgary for the national FireFit Challenge, the week of Sept. 14.
It’ll be his third time at the nationals. He qualified as the Ottawa region’s champion over this past summer so he gets to leapfrog all the qualifiers and go straight to the championship round on Sept. 17.
“That’s a big stress reliever,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I get to relax, but it is a big weight off my shoulders.”
Last year Ivanski finished the national challenge with a 48th place ranking out of 160 competitors, and a fifth-overall ranking out of 45 in the volunteer participant class.
“And this is out of all the toughest men and women from all the towns in Canada.”
All of his weekly training for FireFit makes him a better firefighter, he figures. That’s what matters most to him.
“To be a volunteer and to help my community, it’s a win-win. It’s a very physical job, which is also what I love. I get a lot of support from my station, and I’d like to thank them for that.”
Outside of the fire station, the six-foot Ivanski works as a flooring contractor.
When not doing that, or training or going out on calls, he most enjoys almost any kind of outdoor activity like running or climbing, anything to help build cardio.
Come winter time and he might be available for a round of pickup hockey.
He used to play defence for the Embrun Panthers.
“Definitely, hockey is in my blood.”
Jimmy Ivanski is ready to take on another Firefit Challenge, and this time see if he can win a national title.
Pounding on the Kaiser.