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On fire . . . Oamaru volunteer firefighters (from left) Hayden Hastie, Neil Gibson and Darryl Hansen show off their tophies they won at the National Waterways Challenge. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

An Oamaru Fire Brigade team has won the the National Waterways Challenge, the brigade’s first ever win in the competition that dates back to 1885.

Hose-running and pump operating skills were put to the test at the event in Wainuiomata, over the first weekend of March, and the Oamaru team of Neil Gibson, Hayden Hastie and Darryl Hansen took out the overall title against 17 other teams from across the country.

The Waterways Challenge was a test of the speed and accuracy of real-life skills firefighters used working under pressure, which helped when fighting real fires, team spokesman Mr Gibson said.

The events were timed, with points being deducted if the gear was used improperly.

Competition was so tight some runs were decided by fractions of a second, but the Oamaru team claimed four wins and one second place, out of the eight events, securing them the overall title in the two-man event. The team of three rotated in and out throughout the competition.

The victory was the culmination of a year’s worth of weekly training, Mr Gibson said.

“It’s great to get the win, especially as we have had some great community support, they have been right behind us,” Mr Gibson said.

The Oamaru Volunteer Fire Brigade has 28 volunteers and responds to about 300 callouts each year.