Delta firefighter breaks world record at national competition

Team Westshore's Jamie McGarva carved nearly two seconds off the best time

Delta firefighter Jamie McGarva

Delta’s fire department can now boast the top firefighter in Canada.

Jamie McGarva, 38, from Surrey, shattered a world record while finishing first out of 134 firefighters competing at the National Scott FireFit Championships in Baie-Comeau, Que. on Sept. 1 and 2.

McGarva’s time of 1:13.53 knocked more than two seconds off the previous record of 1:15.9. He finished second to Kamloops firefighter Graham MacKenzie last year, who was fourth this time around.

Teammate Ryan Rickards, 36, from Langley, who finished in 27th place, said it’s in McGarva’s nature to be the best at whatever he does.

“His wife was telling me a story that his neighbour redid their lawn, so Jamie went out the next day and redid his lawn and garden,” said Rickards. “Because he has to have the nicest lawn in the neighbourhood. He’s that guy.”

Rickards said that four years ago McGarva was running a middle-of-the-road time of 1:35 and decided to really dedicate himself to training harder and dieting like an athlete. That hard work has paid off.

“He was back in the gym at 6 a.m. yesterday morning,” said Rickards. “And he probably worked out again last night.”

The team finished second out of 26 teams in Canada, behind perennial powerhouse Kamloops, who are the four-time National champions and two-time World champions.

“Across Canada, a small little department like us, that’s great,” said Rickards.

Teammate Reid Taylor, 26, from Mission, said the experience was fun, since he’d never been east of Alberta before.

Taylor finished with a time of 1:27.16 with a two-second penalty on the stairs, placing him 19th in Canada. He was disappointed with his performance because he was two seconds faster at the training course in Delta.

“I wasn’t happy with it, but you’ve got to learn to lose before you can win,” he said. “It was a hard pill to swallow for about a week, but I’m over it now.”

Both Rickards and Taylor were penalized two seconds for not touching every stair, without which the team would have finished less than a second behind Kamloops.

“We’re both going so fast, neither of us believe we missed a stair but it’s your word against the referee,” said Rickards.

The fourth member of the team, 48-year-old Mark Millward from Vancouver, finished at 1:36.86, third in the over-45 category. The reigning champion in the category, Millward stumbled and fell two feet from the finish line.

The team now has 10 weeks to train for the World Championships Nov. 13-18 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Taylor is determined to train even harder to try and win a world title.

“It’s all about number two on the team, right? Jamie’s just above and beyond.”