It’s been more than two decades since Anthony Hatch broke firefighter championship records in Griffith.
Back then the local man was “just a young pup”.
The senior firefighter said his days of racing up ladders in mere seconds were past, but he was still looking forward to getting behind a hose at this year’s Regional Firefighter Championships.
For Mr Hatch, the third tournament of its kind for 2018 will be a trip down memory lane, as up to 20 teams from across the state rushing to put out fires in Griffith.
It is the third time the town has hosted the event, with small firefighter crews showcasing their specialist skills and expertise across two days.
Mr Hatch said the last locally-held competition was more than 20 years ago.
Residents are invited to witness the rare sight at Jubilee Oval on Saturday and Sunday, August 4, and 5.
Colourful demonstrations expected to wow crowds, as the service members respond to a number of simulated emergency situations.
The small scenarios are strictly judged, with micro-sensors and laser-lights accurately dictating the winners.
The senior instructor said the event was incredible to watch, with each stand over in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
He said one exercise – the one-man ladder run – typically took a well-trained firefighter under 10 seconds to grab, place against a wall and run up to the top.
“I ran in championships when I was a pup,” Mr Hatch said. “I had a lot of trophies back then.”
With plans to jump in on the action, he said he would be more focused on not breaking anything, than breaking records this year.
Mr Hatch said the Fire and Rescue NSW teams from Griffith and Yenda would be participating alongside a local NSW Rural Fire Service team, but they were not necessarily “in it to win it”.
He said the teams that placed trained fiercely three or four times a week.
“The Griffith team is more about having fun,” Mr Hatch said. “It’s a good weekend away … it’s about camaraderie.”
Vito Montagner echoed this sentiment.
Mr Montagner said he had attended a number of similar championships across five years of firefighting and was looking forward to this year’s event, which would be held on his home turf.
“It’s about meeting new guys and catching up,” Mr Montagner said. “It’s more about the camaraderie than anything.”
Food stalls and demonstrations will also be available across the weekend, with Griffith residents and visitors welcome from 7.30am.