ELORA – If you had to be rescued in a fire, you might hope Katherine Ross and Jason Woodford were on scene to help you out.
Ross and Woodford are Brampton firefighters who live in Elora, and they recently competed in the national and world FireFit championships, bringing home medals for their efforts.
FireFit is a competition for firefighters based on firefighting tasks commonly performed in emergency situations.
They carry heavy objects up flights of stairs. They run for a hose, carry the hose to a location, and blast an object with water from the hose.
They lug a heavy human replica a certain distance. And they do it all in full gear – face mask, fire suits and oxygen tank on their backs.
Ross ran the race in one minute 46 seconds – the fastest among the female competitors – bringing home gold from the world championship in October.
Woodford did his race in one minute 29 seconds.
“They are very much job-related tasks,” Woodford said. “On-scene we do it for safety but here, we do it for speed.”
“They call it the toughest two-minute sport,” Ross added.
It was Woodford’s first world competition in a long time, so he was pretty happy about his performance.
The couple also competed together, placing first in the nationals and third at the worlds. They headed down to Stuart Beach, Florida Oct. 11 to 15 for the world competition after winning provincial and national competitions here.
Woodford became a full-time firefighter in 2010; Ross became a firefighter in 2017.
Woodford said he wanted to pursue sports when he finished high school but decided he needed something to fall back on if that didn’t pan out.
“So, I decided on this,” he said. “I’m a blue-collar kind of guy and it’s a good fit with everything I want to do in my life.”
Ross said she was attracted to firefighting, “because I really like helping people. I love the teamwork of it, the adrenalin, the excitement of it.
“Every time we go into shift, it’s never the same. Every day is different. I really look forward to going to work,” she said.
The FireFit season runs from spring to October, with a few regional competitions, the nationals if you get that far, and then the worlds.
“They are cool events,” Ross said. “It’s a huge community and the atmosphere is always positive and exciting.”
It’s a thrill to win, but it takes hard work to get in shape and then keep in shape.
They work out four times a week at RT Health Company in Elora, where it’s not just about the workout.
“We really focus on nutrition, proper sleep and recovery,” Woodford said.
Ross said they are hoping to find sponsors for next year’s contest, to help defray travel and accommodation costs. While the nationals were in Sarnia this year, they are to be in Kamloops, B.C. in 2024.
“We do it because we love it,” Ross said. “It keeps us fit and that’s crucial.”