BAchallengeCentral White Watch from Sheffield are celebrating after coming out on top in a national competition to test firefighters’ search and rescue skills in heat and smoke.

The crew were awarded first place in the UK finals of the Breathing Apparatus (BA) challenge which saw them compete against 15 other fire crews from across the UK, including from West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Hertfordshire.

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Each team tackled a series of scenarios involving the rescue of ‘casualties’ from inside smoke-filled buildings. Judges at the competition, held at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh, named the Central crew overall winners after they scored highest in the best BA team and best officer in charge categories.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Martin Blunden, said: “We’re very proud that a crew from South Yorkshire took first place in a national competition that was filled with extremely professional, highly-skilled firefighters. The standard was very, very high, and for our crew to perform to such a high standard on the national stage is a fantastic achievement.

“Since arriving in South Yorkshire this spring, I’ve been convinced that the service is amongst the best in the country at what it does. Winning this competition is further proof of that.”

Judges scored crews in a number of different skill areas including BA search and rescue, firefighting while in BA, pump operator, BA entry control officer and incident command.

A second team from South Yorkshire, made up of firefighters based at the service’s training and development centre in Handsworth, also took part in the contest - "proof of the skill and professionalism of the county’s crews," according to ACO Blunden.