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A team of five Humberside firefighters have returned from a trip to Portugal with three individual medals and a fourth place overall in one of the toughest events of the year.

The Portugal Survival Challenge was held in the country’s second city of Porto over the weekend of 28-29 April, 2018.

Firefighters from across Europe gathered for a day of workshops and seminars, learning new survival techniques and sharing best practice from their own services, before pitting their speed and skills against each other in a further day of gruelling challenges.

Team events ran alongside individual competitions which were categorised into age groups: 18-30 years, 31-40, 41-45 and over 45s.

Team events in the arena consisted of timed challenges over walls and through confined space all in full breathing apparatus. ‘Air management’ was vital during the challenge as assessors were marking on techniques learnt in the workshops and safety procedures as well as the final time achieved.

It was in the lung-bursting tower climb that the Humberside team really shone.

2017 new recruit Grant Lakin (pictured half way up his stairclimb) won his 18-30 age group with a remarkable 2min 32secs to climb the 20 floors of the office tower especially commandeered for the event. This placed him 6th overall.

Mark Robson also took gold in the 41-45 age category with 2min 41sec, with Lee Simms taking second place just seven seconds behind.

The team placed fourth overall at the event amongst the 28 services taking part.

Kris Illingworth was delighted with such a high finish:

‘It would have been great to cap an excellent event with a team medal, but to finish fourth and pick up three individual medals was testament to the skills of the team and their exceptional levels of fitness.’

Innovative skills and best practice were shared throughout the event and, despite some language barriers amongst the competitors, new lifetime friendships were formed. The Portugal event is one of the best events on the calendar, but the team is looking forward to next month’s Firefighter Combat Challenge and Toughest Firefighter Alive combined competition in Torun, Poland.

The British Championship takes place in Bury St Edmonds in July and the Humberside team will be hoping to go one better than the relay silver medal which they won in 2017.

The team of five who represented Humberside Fire and Rescue Service were (left to right): Lee Simms, Kris Illingworth, Grant Lakin, Richard Wilds and Mark Robson