THEY battle with flames on a daily basis. But now four firefighters are swapping their hoses for oars to race Cambridge Fire and Rescue Service rowers on the Thames in Oxford.

Spike Miles, Darren Taylor, Simon Tyrrell and Ben Bishop from White Watch at Rewley Road fire station will be going up against the Cambridge crew on Sunday, April 6 – the day of the real Boat Race in London.

The team had their first training session yesterday with Allan French from Oxford Brookes University.

Rowing stroke will be Mr Taylor, 42 from Charlbury, who has worked as a firefighter for seven years. He said: “Yesterday was the first time that we all went on the water.”

Simon Tyrrell, 40 from Botley, added: “It is hard work and is something I’ve never done before.”

Mr Taylor set up the charity rowing challenge as part of his preparation for the Great Pacific Race on June 7.

He will be rowing more than 2,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean with Alex Flynn who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Next month’s race will be raising funds for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and The Fire Fighters charity.