Every two years, career firefighters undertake physical competency assessments (PCA) to make sure they continue to maintain the appropriate levels of fitness to respond to incidents.

National Commander, Kerry Gregory is no exception and last week, he took his PCA at Balmoral Fire Station in Auckland. We had a quick korero with him to see how he went.

Q: How often do you as a National Commander complete your PCA?

Kerry: Like all the others who complete this, I do my PCA every two years.

Q: How much practice / training did you do to prepare?

Kerry: Uh not as much as I intended to! But before COVID my wife and I were training up to do the Camino Trail in Spain, so we were doing lots of long walks to build up our endurance but then, of course, we had to cancel the trip.

Q: Was it hard? If so, what did you find most challenging?

Kerry: I didn’t find it hard as such, but I was a bit worried about my hip. I’ve had a hip operation in the past two years, and I wasn’t sure if it would hold up, particularly during the part where you have to drag the dummy. But it was fine, which was good.

Q: Did you pass?

Kerry: Yes! I had a personal target of completing it under 7 minutes and I did it in 6 minutes and 50 seconds!

Q: Has the PCA changed over the years since you first did it? E.g. are you tested on different competencies now?

Kerry: No still the same competencies but that’s the good thing about the PCA, it allows you to monitor your fitness levels over time and ensure that you maintain a good baseline of fitness.

Q: Any tips for those who might be gearing up to do their PCA for the first time?

Kerry: Make sure you do the practice days. Regardless of your fitness, the practice days are a good way to familiarise yourself with the right techniques.

Q: Lastly, why do you think it’s important to take the PCA as the National Commander?

Kerry: From my perspective, it’s important for me to regularly take the PCA not only to test and understand my own level of fitness but also to maintain an understanding of the assessment that our firefighters have to do so I can ensure it continues to be pitched at the right level.

The PCA is designed around real firefighting activities to ensure we are not only operationally fit enough to respond to incidents safely but can undertake those activities when our communities need us.


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