FIGHTING FIRE, ITS ALL ABOUT STAMINA – A FIREFIGHTER’S PERSPECTIVE TABLE MOUNTAIN
Our days are never ‘’normal’’ but it started with the sun shining and all the boys in a joyful mood. Monitoring the radio, we heard about the fire that had started on Table Mountain, just as we had heard so many times before. Little did we know that this time would be so very different... The fire continued to grow and so did our interest in the radio messages as we kept each other updated on the situation on the mountain slopes throughout the day. At that stage the Cape Town Fire Dept had vehicles committed to the incident, dealing with it.
Later that day the fire alarm bell sounded the fire had grown to such a size and intensity that the Fire Department needed to deploy additional resources to contain it in the quest of saving life, protecting property and nature.
We received our instructions and headed for the holding point. There was panic, fear and mayhem among the public, but they were reassured and helped by the firemen and emergency staff who were trying to evacuate them. We linked up with those who were at the frontlines with the hoses attacking the head of the fire and flames. We rolled and deployed hose, pulled hose, positioned hose, fought the flames and then we would do it all again, over and over and over.
Each length of hose weighs 100kg when filled with water, there were multiple lines of hose with minimum 5 -10 lengths of hose each. We proceeded up slope whilst wearing full fire protective gear with self-contained breathing apparatus on your back, weighing about 25kgs.
(To prepare myself for days like these, I run up Lions Head in full fire gear; “Bleed more in training, sweat less in battle” is what my Dad always told me.)
The battle with the fire raged right through the night! She just wouldn’t give an inch. We had helicopters bombing with water all day and so many firefighters on the ground trying to stop her. Working through the night, in the wind, cold, smoke and flames while completely wet – there we were!
Just before sunrise we were given an opportunity to give her one killer blow (We had been awake for 24 hours straight. I would eventually end up being awake for 28 hours before getting home). We pulled, dragged and positioned hose one last time and we seized the chance we were given.
As she came down the slope with the wind at her back, full force, we stood tall and brave, head on, we gave it all we had for what seemed like hours, but we bit down on our teeth and put the fire out. “We don’t and can’t stop when we are tired… “we only stop when we are done!!!” are the words that Firefighters use worldwide as motivation. Things get tough but the people depend on us.
It is an amazing feeling when the fire is out and nobody in your crew is injured – a great day at the office!
It is through times like these that I realise how important the correct nutrition is for me to perform at my peak, consistently. I had my Hammer gel with me as well as Hammer Electrolytes Max. These products really helped me perform whilst pushing my limits to the real extreme.
Thank you to Hammer for the supply of supplements for the team and to all the public for the support you as Cape Town threw at us the Fire Dept during our time of need, we sincerely appreciate it.
Firefighter Robin Barnes
Melkbos Fire Station