The safety officer told me that there was to be an inter-pit fire fighting competition. The form would take an individual event and a team event.

The individual event would consist of:

At a signal pick, up a CO2 fire extinguisher and run forward to a wooden cage like apparatus. The cage had a one foot xix inch (46cm) square opening. Inside, the cage had a door which led into a small maze of compartments. The extinguisher had to be manipulated around the obstacles. The extinguisher had to be discharged, with the resulting water jet; a target had to be knocked down. The shortest time taken would determine the winner.

The team event consisted of four men.

At a signal the first member of the team would lift a hydrant grating and plug in a hydrant. The other three men would pick up large rolled hoses. The second man would hand one end of his hose to the first who would couple it to the hydrant. The others in turn would run forward each coupling one end of their hose to the one before him. The fourth, and last, man would couple a nozzle to his hose and signal ‘water on’. The time trial would end when a target was knocked down with the water jet.

Cash prizes were on offer, five pounds for the individual winner, three and two pounds for the runners up. The same amounts were at stake for the team event each member of the team receiving the prize. I picked up ten pounds that afternoon. We were also informed that all the pits in the area were having Fire Fighting competitions. Winners would then compete at area. Area winners would then go forward to a Divisional competition at Doncaster.

Ben allowed the team to practice our moves in the afternoon after work. We were paid overtime for the pit top practice. Our team came second at the Area competition and I managed to come in as first individual, picking up Fifteen Pounds. Being Area winner I was allowed to practise every afternoon trying to shave microseconds from my time also earning grateful overtime whist doing it. I became Second individual at Division championships for which I received Twenty Pounds.

The rest of this chapter relates to Jack courting his future wife, Brenda, and can be found on Jack Gale’s website

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