26 October 2023

Cooktown firie recruit earns helmet after gruelling hike

| Sarah Martin
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Cooktown firefighters John James, David Kamholtz, Brianna Vela, Campbell Venables and Marcus Jarmyn training hard.

As Cooktown’s firefighters brace for the bushfire season and recover from recent callouts, including a Cameron Creek Road blaze which threatened homes last week, they continue to maintain a gruelling training schedule to ensure a speedy response during emergencies.

The Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Cooktown Auxiliary Brigade recently challenged the team to complete a gruelling 6-km round hike up rugged Mt Cook in full personal protective equipment (PPE) and breathing apparatus.

Firefighter Katie Hooker said a good level of fitness was needed to attend emergency events, such as the recent bushfires.

“We always work together and individually to maintain our fit-for-task physical and mental health,” Ms Hooker said.

“It might not be so challenging to walk up Mt Cook in exercise gear, carrying the extra 25 kg really gets your heart and lungs working.”

Ms Hooker said exercising in PPE also helped the team prepare for the scorching conditions they faced during incidents when decked out in full turn-out gear.

“But everyone is smiling in the photo, as you can see,” she said.

“The camaraderie at Cooktown fire station is just awesome.”

Firefighters overlooking trees.

Recruit John James was presented with his own helmet ahead of final training before graduating as a level 1 firefighter.

New recruit John James was rewarded with more than the view on completion of the hike, with the presentation of his own firefighting helmet.

Mr James has been training hard for the past nine months in preparation for two weeks of intensive training to become a level 1 firefighter.

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