Nova Scotia

North Preston's Cyril Fraser sets 2 records at Firefighter Combat Challenge

Halifax regional firefighter Captain Cyril Fraser recently set a new world record in the over 60 division of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Montgomery, Alabama.

Fraser, a veteran of 98 competitions, is delaying his retirement to chase his 100th event

Cyril Fraser stays fit for his main job — fighting fires. (Sherri Borden Colley/CBC)

Halifax regional firefighter Capt. Cyril Fraser recently set a new world record in the over-60 division of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Montgomery, Ala.

The 60-year-old firefighter is from North Preston, N.S. This was his 98th competition since 1995.

Fraser broke the 1:52 world record, held by American Roy Davis since 2002, in the over-60 category with time of 1:45.92.

Fraser also broke his own record in the over-40 category. The competition was held Oct. 24 to 29.

"The guys keep saying the older I get, the faster I get," Fraser said. 

Racing up five-storey tower in full gear

Fraser has been a firefighter for 26 years. He began his professional career with the former Dartmouth Fire Department.

Wearing full bunker gear and a breathing apparatus, Fraser and his competitor raced head-to-head, starting at the base of a five-storey tower.

The race included hoisting an 18-kilogram hose to the top of the tower and over a railing. After hoisting a rope up over the tower, the two raced down the stairs, exited the tower and moved on to a forcible entry simulator.  They then rescued a life-size 175-pound dummy and dragged it about 30 metres to the finish line.

These tasks highly resembled the strenuous duties firefighters do every day on the job.

Fraser says he knew he was close and could almost feel his record-breaking win even before it happened.

"You hear everybody screaming, you can hear your friends, other competitors just screaming," Fraser said. "They want to see that record getting broken. That's why records are out there — to be broken."

Officials give Fraser a certificate for one of the two world records he set. (Courtesy Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge)

There aren't a lot of over-60 firefighters as fit as Fraser, Paul David, founder and president of the Scott Safety Firefighter Combat Challenge, said from his office in Maryland.

"This guy's a stallion and he's certainly won the respect of all his fellow firefighters to see such a performance and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

"I think there's a lot of guys in their 20s that would be envious to have that kind of physical prowess."

'Toughest two minutes in sport'

Fraser brought home an embroidered patch and a certificate for his world record.

He trains rigorously to get his body ready for these competitions.

"It's really a sporting event," Fraser said. "When they say it's the toughest two minutes in sport, it's really the toughest two minutes in sport. You have to have that cardio base, you have to have that anaerobic-type of conditioning going on, you have to have the focus — it's the whole package.

"You have to have the legs to get you around the course. You have to have the lungs, because running up that tower and back down again, the whole course, in like under two minutes, your lungs are burning, and your legs are burning. And also lats to pull those ropes up."

Aiming for 100

Fraser could have actually retired in July. But with 98 firefighting competitions already under his belt, he asked for an extension on his job because he wants to stick around until reaches his 100th competition.

"A hundred for me would be quite the accomplishment," he said.

Fraser previously beat a world record in the firefighter combat challenge's over-50 category. He's also placed first multiple times in Canadian competitions.

This year, 442 firefighters from seven provinces and 12 international teams, from as far away as New Zealand and Kuwait, competed.  A team from Oakville, Ont., won this year's overall championship.