Island Games 2015 leaves Sark fire service numbers depleted

Sark's fire engines
With no cars allowed on Sark, their fire engines are towed behind a tractor

While Jersey braces itself for an influx of thousands of people next week for the Island Games, spare a thought for the fire brigade on the smallest competing island, Sark.

Four of its 15-strong band of firefighters are heading to Jersey to compete in the biennial event, which takes place from 27 June to 3 July.

With three of them taking part in the shooting competition and fire chief Kevin Adams representing the island at archery, will there be enough people left to man the pumps back at home, if necessary?

"Hopefully, there'll still be plenty of them here, an average turnout would be about 10," said Adams, who leads the band of volunteer firefighters as well as helping out at a campsite, digging roads and acting as the island's choirmaster.

Thankfully, fire emergencies on Sark are rare - and at the other end of the scale, incidences of rescuing cats from trees are even rarer.

"We haven't had a call-out for a fire for 13 months, so they're not exactly frequent," Adams told BBC Sport.

Sark lark
Around 600 people live on the island
Cars are banned. Horse and cart or tractor are the only non-human powered modes of transport
2012 Olympics dressage gold medallist Carl Hester was brought up on the island - and Sark's only postbox is painted gold in his honour
Sark was the last feudal state in Europe. The first elections to its parliament, Chief Pleas, were not held until 2008
The island has won two gold, nine silver and four bronze medals at the Island Games

"I've done a cow in a pit, but never a cat up a tree in 27 years."

Sark's fire service tends to do most of its work supporting paramedics by helping them get people up island's steep hills and onto a waiting boat to ferry them to hospital in Guernsey.

Sporting-wise, the Island Games is as big as it gets for Sark on an international stage, as its athletes represent Guernsey at the Commonwealth Games.

And while football is certainly not a strength - in their only foray into the sport at the Island Games in 2003 they conceded 70 goals in four matches - Sark competitiors thrive in shooting.

With their own range on the tiny island, Sark has won two Island Games gold medals, while clay-target shooters Stefan Roberts and Nick Dewe represented Guernsey at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

"It was a great feat to get a gold in 2011, we've had other medals in the past, but the gold is the one we're all after," Dewe, who along with Roberts won Sark's last gold in 2011, told BBC Guernsey.

Sark's other gold medallist, Alex Williams, has made the 16-mile move across the water to Guernsey and will be competing in green this time.

Stefan Roberts
Stefan Roberts is one of Sark's most decorated shooters

"That's going to be interesting for a bit of banter," said Dewe.

"You've just got to go in there and just relax and do your best. on the day lots of things can happen, but if you keep cool and just go with the flow and do your own thing you can get some good results," he added.

So how does fire chief Adams fancy his chances of adding to Sark's medal tally as the only archer in the side?

"Personally, I won't do that well because some of them are international shooters. As long as I don't come last I don't mind," he said.

Sadly for him, he will not be able to stay in Jersey for the duration of the Games as Sark's folk festival begins on 3 July and with 2,000 visitors swelling the island's 600-strong population, the fire chief has to be there to keep everyone safe.

Top Stories