Kent Gallant knew he wanted to be a firefighter ever since he was four years old, carrying on a venerable family tradition.
Twenty years later he has realized his dream, taking his place beside his father Guy Gallant, a father-son duo from North River who competed in the intense Scott FireFit Challenge in Truro on Aug. 10-11.
“It makes me feel very proud,” said Guy. “I’m proud of Kent anyway as my son, but I’m proud he’s a firefighter and he’s continuing on the tradition. We’re here in front of our home crowd, it’s a very proud moment with everyone cheering us on.”
Guy and Kent, from North River and District Fire Brigade, won their relay race against Kingsclear in New Brunswick with a time of two minutes and 43 seconds against their rivals’ 2:53.
The pair joined dozens of other firefighters from all over Canada in the FireFit races, clambering up a tower and hauling up coils of hosepipes with ropes, then running back down, banging a mallet down onto metal blocks, aiming and firing hoses at targets, then dragging a life-size dummy to the finish line.
On Aug. 10, both Guy and Kent competed in the individual races against a single opponent. Kent represented his own department of King Fire and Emergency Services in Ontario, where he now lives, while his father raced for North River, where he is now the deputy chief.
Guy has served with North River for 23 years, covering a 50 km stretch of territory running from Bible Hill to the Northumberland Strait.
“As a third generation firefighter, not just my father but my mother and grandfather as well, it’s a tradition that’s been in the family for a while,” said Kent.
He was grateful for the knowledge and experience passed down to him from his father and previous generations of firefighters, saying his ancestors fought fires without the expertise enjoyed by modern departments.
Many smaller fire halls used antiquated trucks that were a far cry from modern vehicles and now belong in museums, while their occupants faced dangerous blazes without modern safety gear.“We’ve learned a lot from their lessons and we’re a lot better, stronger, safer than we were,” said Kent.
For their latest lesson, Guy put together a training regimen to prepare for the Scott FireFit Challenge. This include daily regimens of cardio workouts between 30 minutes and one hour. Training and conditioning for the challenge began six months ahead of time.
The challenge is designed to test firefighters' essential skills and is both a sporting event and training for a real fire and rescue situation.