Even though I am a Belfast Photographer I do work outside of the city regularly. A very good friend of mine has one of the coolest jobs out there as he runs Firewalking Ireland. Firewalking Ireland facilitate some very unique team building exercises. These include board breaking, arrow bending, glass and fire walking. Stephen and his team have worked with companies such as Paddy Power, Cancer Focus, PIPS and FASA. More recently Firewalking Ireland completed a charity fire walk for the Irish children’s ambulance charity, Bumbleance. This is an ambulance service owned by the Saoirse Foundation, an Irish children’s charity with is HQ in Kerry.
As the Bumbleance service is completely funded by volunteer donations the team are constantly coming up with new ways of fundraising. Angela O’Connor from Trainability Ireland helped organise a charity fire walk on behalf of Bumbleance with the team from Firewalking Ireland providing the group activities. The fire walk would be held at The Church in Dublin, one of the cities most famous public houses. A big thanks has to go to Darren Moore from The Church for hosting the event.
The Firewalking Ireland team started the activities inside The Church with glass walking. The looks on the faces of the participants said it all! “Glass!?” Sure enough Stephen laid a small strip of glass out on the floor and demonstrated how to walk across it. The sounds coming from the glass crunching underfoot were insane! Despite the noises the crowd were eager to have a go. The noises of the glass breaking ensured some amazing facial expressions.
Next up was board breaking. This was pretty difficult to photograph as timing the moment the participants punched through the board and depressing the shutter at the same time proved very hard. It was amazing to see the reactions from the participants. Everyone managed to punch through the board first time. The reaction from the others waiting for their turn was amazing, big woops and cheers all round.
By this stage the participants were all psyched up and ready to rock for the main event, the fire walk. One of the other members of Firewalking Ireland, Chris, was upstairs keeping an eye on the fire. He was making sure that the public didn’t stray too close and that it was burning down properly.
I moved all my equipment upstairs and got ready for the main event. I wanted to make sure i got at least one photograph of everyone who walked across the fire pit. I set up two speed lights. One facing towards the participants as they walked across and another to their rear as they walked away from the start. I would use radio triggers to make sure the lights fired. The Nikon CLS system could not be relied upon as it works via infra red and it doesn’t work well outdoors.
The crowds started to gather well before the participants came upstairs from their previous activities. Stephen and Chris continued to monitor the fire to make sure it was in a suitable condition to walk across. Moments after the participants came up from below the fire was ready to walk on. The group already agreed a rough order so they got started straight away. Its worth remembering that the coals were burning at around 650c. Look at the picture above, second from the left for proof!
I have to thank Stephen and his team for letting me be involved in such as class event. If you are looking for an alternative charity fundraising option or a team building event then you definitely need to get in touch with Firewalking Ireland.