Amazing Race Canada teams encounter damage control up close

Amazing Race Canada

Teams arrive, via Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, at the Fleet Diving Unit jetty prior to facing the day’s challenges.

In their first encounter with military reality, 11 teams from The Amazing Race Canada were put through their paces at the Damage Control (DC) Training Facility in Colwood to do what the producers of show wanted: make this stop one of the most difficult these teams encounter all season.

In the series opener, staff at the training facility put the teams, dressed in firefighting gear and using the hoses at hand, through their paces.

The first scenario consisted of knocking down three weighted buckets within 30 seconds, then suppressing a helicopter fire before recovering a casualty.

It all had to be done with LCdr Rob Petitpas, Division Commander, watching and judging if teams passed or failed. 

“I was thrilled to be part of the show,” said LCdr Petitpas. “The firefighting challenge was not easy for some teams, but when they succeeded, it was great to see their excitement when I delivered them the good news.”

Many teams found the challenge exhausting and a real eye opener regarding the reality of fighting a fire on a warship.  At least one team could be heard saying, “I’ve never been so hot in my life!” as they raced to the next challenge.

“We really had a chance to showcase the Royal Canadian Navy and the training we put sailors through, “said CPO2 Spike Armstrong, the Division Chief at the DC Training Facility. “It was a blast watching teams go through the different scenarios.  It made me realize just how well we train our sailors.”

Once through the fire trainer, it was off to the flood trainer to figure out how to stop water from flooding a room. It was made even more difficult as the teams were not provided any instruction. They entered the room as water poured in, saw pictures of what it should look like when a leak is plugged, and went to work.

“It was remarkable to watch how teams struggled with what we do each day,” said PO1 Jeff Fiddler, who judged the teams in the tank and then handed them their next clue.  “On the other hand, some teams really got down to business, figured out what to do to stop the flooding, and really impressed me.”

Teams had nothing but praise for what sailors are required to do so they are prepared for an emergency at sea. One team member, exhausted but still enthusiastic after finally completing their challenge, barked out, “I have so much respect for what you guys do!” as he struggled out of the flood trainer.

It was a cryptic email to Maritime Forces Pacific Public Affairs in March that got the ball rolling for the Amazing Race Canada to make CFB Esquimalt a stop. Once a few calls were made and a site visit completed, it was clear show producers found the gem they were after. But it had to be kept a secret until the first show aired.

“Our guys, being the clever ones they are, figured out what was going on pretty quickly,” CPO2 Armstrong said. “But no one was going to mess this up for the navy. Orders were given and lips were sealed.”

It helps that everyone in the military is required to have a security clearance and understand the need to safeguard sensitive information.

At the end of a long day, it all proved to be well worth the effort for the RCN. Not only did they demonstrate firsthand to people just how difficult it can be to train for emergencies at sea, they enlightened those in attendance to what the RCN does.  Everyone involved, from the cameramen to the producers, had nothing but praise for the navy.

“This was easily one of my favourite challenges of the season,” said Mark Lysakowski, The Amazing Race Canada Supervising Producer. “My whole team was left with a lasting and positive impression of the navy.  We saw a lot of dedicated and skilled specialists who put their lives on the line in our waters at home and abroad, and it’s a privilege to witness firsthand how these dedicated professionals train for the task.”


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