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UFBA Drivers Challenge

21 August 2019.

The United Fire Brigades’ Association Drivers Challenge at Manfeild brings together fire crews from all around the country to compete and upskill in a challenging driving competition using fire appliances (fire engines/trucks). “We’re honoured to again have this event here,” says Manfeild events and marketing manager Stephanie Dench. “This undertaking provides an opportunity for the public to see something of the skills of these often unsung heroes of a job that requires bravery, skill and dedication.”

The competition is more than just a lumbering hot lap of the home of New Zealand’s Grand Prix. It comprises a theory test and 11 individual exercises, in which drivers are judged on overall ability, efficiency, aptitude and smoothness of operation of fire appliances.

The exercises are designed to test critical spatial awareness and judgment decisions that reflect the real-life challenges when driving on New Zealand roads. Challenges include bay and parallel parking, straight-line driving, lane changes, braking, estimating clearance, and negotiating serpentine and shrinking chicanes. This event also helps with re-validation for brigade drivers completing Emergency Response Driver certificates. UFBA CEO Bill Butzbach says, ‘Statistically, responding to a call in a fire appliance is the most hazardous part of a firefighters role. The skill involved in safely driving an 8-12 ton appliance, with the safety of the crew onboard and other road uses, while in response to an emergency cannot be understated. Many of these skilled drivers are members of community volunteer fire brigades. This event brings together a vital opportunity for sharing, upskilling, testing against compliance and simple camaraderie as isolated brigade members network in a competitive and safe environment.

Spectators are welcome to come along and gain insight into the world of firefighters. Understand and appreciate the incredible skill it takes to control and manoeuvre a 12-ton fire truck with precision and patience.

The United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) is a national membership organisation of about 550 brigades comprising 13,000 firefighters, eighty percent of whom are volunteers.


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