Stone Mills firefighter Lianne McAuley is a world champion after picking up several world titles at the recent Firefighter Challenge World Championship XXXI in Sandy, Utah. McAuley, who has served as a volunteer firefighter in Stone Mills Township for almost 10 years, competed in several events throughout the championship, finishing atop the podium in the women’s 50+ category and in the over 55 co-ed tandem division.
The World Challenge saw firefighters from around the globe competing on a course that recreated many of the physical elements first responders encounter in emergency situations. “What the course does,” McAuley said, “is take the six basic fundamentals of firefighting — stair climbing, [hose] hoisting, delineators, hose drag, and patient rescue — and puts it [all] into one race.”
McAuley explained, “The hose drag is one and three-quarter inches, fully charged, and you drag that [for] 80 feet. You do an entry through two plexiglass doors, and then you hit your target. The hoist is 45 pounds up, and you pull that up six storeys. The stair climb is six flights, so 62 steps in full gear… They call it the hardest two minutes in sports.”
In the individual competition, McAuley completed the course with a time of 4:22.87, making her the fastest competitor in the women’s over 50 age group. Then, alongside partner Joe Arico of Eureka Fire Protection District in Missouri, McAuley secured a second world title in the over 55 coed tandem division, as the pair clocked a time of 2:20.32.
While securing a world title in any competition is a significant milestone, McAuley said she simply hopes to inspire others with her results. “I don’t really recognize the title. I guess I just hope to inspire other people to be physically fit, just to do the work and show them you can accomplish anything. If it takes a title to get the word out, it’s done what I wanted it to do.”
Considering the fact that Firefighter Challenges are intense competitions, McAuley said the experience often has a positive impact on her own work as a firefighter.
“The series of skills are directly fire-related. With the abundance of practice, and learning techniques from your colleagues… [it’s] going to translate to firefighting perfectly,” she said.
“We get tolerant to the heat because we’re typically training with our gear on. Heat tolerance is huge in fire; mental errors can cost you, your partner, or civilians serious harm. So, if your body is fit, the likelihood of mental errors is reduced.”
Despite the highly competitive nature of any event described as a “world championship,” the Stone Mills resident remarked on the high level of camaraderie that exists among firefighters, with the event in Utah bringing first responders together from all over the world.
“It was just such an incredible experience, meeting people from Ukraine, Belgium, Germany… There were 11 countries represented,” she shared.
”The support from your fellow firefighters is immeasurable… I often say we’re united by fire.”