ALPENA – Firefighters undergo rigorous training to cope with the physical demands of fighting fires and handling heavy tools and equipment.
In Alpena, two local government officials participated in a firefighter agility exercise to support the men and women of the local fire departments.
In early May, Alpena Mayor Matt Waligora and Alpena Township Supervisor Nathan Skibbe each tackled the agility course, which is organized similarly to an obstacle course, where techniques and specific fire fighting skills are required.
A friendly bet of $ 1 was placed between the two men, the one with the most time to collect the money.
For the exercise, Waligora and Skibbe were dressed in full firefighting gear, including the air tank, which makes the exercise more difficult. They also had to use equipment such as chainsaws, hammers, long ladders and large rolls of thick hose. They also had to slide a large tractor tire through the facility, which simulated taking a body out of harm’s way.
They performed the exercise with the help of a fire trainer and to the cheers and encouragement of the Alpena Fire Department staff at the station.
Waligora was the first to tackle the course, and Skibbe did so later, after learning of the mayor’s adventure. Skibbe said he decided to do so after being the victim of ribbing from other local government officials.
“After a few light conversations with the mayor, it kind of snowballed for other officials to dazzle me, so I decided to do it,” Skibbe said. “Oh man, this is an extremely comprehensive course. Each task doesn’t seem so overwhelming, but when done in succession it’s a really good challenge. “
Waligora said he was invited by Alpena Fire Chief Bill Forbush to see the staff during the drills. He said he had given up on the idea of exercising with them, to which Forbush agreed it was a good idea.
“Well I just started throwing up words and asked if I could do it,” Waligora joked. “The chef said, ‘Sure,’ and it was a lot more inclusive than I thought. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in, but doing these exercises, in all the equipment, is a testament to the men and women who have to do this during a fire.
Forbush said the exercise is designed to help determine the fitness of rescuers and helps flag gaps if they need more workout or time in the weight room.
He said Waligora and Skibbe had done well.
“I’m happy to say that they both passed and finished (in) less than five minutes”, he said. “I’m sure they would have done even better if they had had the opportunity to train more before. They both did a great job.
After both men completed the exercise, Skibbe posted a time of approximately 3 minutes, 50 seconds, while Waligora posted a time of 4 minutes, 21 seconds.
Skibbe said he finished Fire Academy many years ago but a lot has changed since as he said over time his physical form has declined. He said beating Waligora’s time and taking his money was on his mind, but his main goal was to have fun and do the best he could.
“The mayor is in pretty good shape. He plays hockey, runs and is very active ”. Skibbe said. “I am sitting behind a desk. Doing this actually made me get back in shape and I think that was an important thing to remember.
Skibbe quickly recovered his loot from the courthouse, and Waligora took a photo of the deal to prove to others that he paid his bet.