The West

Avon entrants firefighters Ash Gasmier and Cam Famlonga with Const. Brody Baker and Sen. Const. Pete Willing, ,

When a team of 22 firefighters powers through the Avon River rapids next month, there will be the odd glance over at new rivals.

Normally allies at the scene of an emergency, Water Police and firefighters will go head-to-head for the first time at the Avon Descent, when the best conditions in a decade are expected, on August 2 and 3.

The Northam to Bayswater paddle event has a history of attracting competitors from emergency services over its 41 years and Fremantle Water Police First Class Const. Brody Baker has won twice.

Sen. Const. Pete Willing said Const. Baker could be the star of their 11-strong team as they competed in relay and individual events against the firefighters.

Both teams have been training regularly on the water near Fremantle, where they often cross paths.

"There's a bit of pride on the line, I guess, there's always competition between cops and fireys," Const. Willing said *. *"We're always saying fireys do nothing but sleep all day and they say cops do nothing but eat doughnuts, so it will be interesting to see who crosses the line first."

The 22-strong WA Fire and Rescue team, led by Cam Famlonga, includes three duo teams and 16 individuals, many of whom have paddled the course many times.

Mr Famlonga said the team was well prepared for the rapids but it was the final 30km flat stretch that had become the most feared part.

"You've done all the hard yards and the fun stuff like the rapids and then you're heading for a 30km grind - you can't prepare mentally for something like that," he said.

"We just have to hope the cops are behind us."

Registrations for the Avon Descent have closed at .

Last-minute registrations are accepted at an extra cost until August 1.

The West Australian

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