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Stephen Brown: Talking Team Building and Firewalking

Team building activities are on the rise with companies small and large, to build trust and relationships. One activity that people are tempted and challenged by is firewalking. 

In our latest Business Leaders episode, we delve into the fascinating world of firewalking with professional instructor and business owner Stephen Brown.

To learn more about this exciting career choice, check out our full interview with Stephen in the video below, or read on for the highlights.

What is Firewalking? 

Firewalking is exactly what it sounds like: walking on fire. For a corporate event, this may seem a little extravagant, but as Stephen puts it, “it serves as metaphors for learning. Our activities are unique, challenging, interactive and fun.”

Going into more detail, Stephen explains: “Firewalking is when you walk along a bed of embers. You will have a fire burning usually for around an hour, and when it burns down to just the embers, you rake it out into a bed. Most firewalks end up being around 12 feet long, which is about four steps.”

Walking across a fire bed of red hot burning coals is one of the toughest mind in matter challenges to ever endure. Yet, it is also one of the most rewarding, helping you to face your fears and realise your true potential.

“Firewalking is very interesting. I’ve worked with many firewalk instructors in many countries, and have led firewalks in countries all around the world.”

Not only is it physically dangerous, others believe it can also be spiritually dangerous. Stephen highlights that when it comes to firewalking, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions.

“In some countries where religion is such a big part of the community, firewalking is deemed like dealing with the devil. In the UK and Ireland, there’s a misconception that there’s a guarantee that you won’t have a burned foot afterwards – and of course there isn’t a guarantee.”

Stephen’s company, Firewalking International, delivers a range of services all related to intense activities such as firewalking. From charity firewalks, team building exercises, personal/team retreats, firewalk training as well as personal, leadership and professional development courses. 

“The reasons people take part in firewalks varies. I do a lot of charity events, where people do it as a fundraiser. So it’s a bit of that, ‘get yourself out of your comfort zone, doing something challenging’ situation.

“Whenever it’s a corporate event, it usually catches people off guard. Once I start talking to them, I reassure them that they don’t have to do it as I work on a principle of challenge by choice.”

fire walking
Stephen's company, Firewalking International, trains teams to undertake this challenge in a safe and empowering manner that will provide great benefits for them. Image credit: Hannah Fielding

From Aspiring Lawyer to Firewalk Instructor: Stephen Brown’s Career Journey

Stephen, whose job title now is Firewalking International Master Instructor, outlines his professional journey, stating that he originally had a very different career path in mind.

“All the way through school I was adamant that I wanted to study law. It took a severe change of direction when it came to filling in my UCAS forms. I ended up not going to university and instead went to Newcastle, County Down, to train as an outdoor pursuits instructor.”

After 12 years of being an outdoor pursuits instructor for multiple organisations, Stephen decided to tap into another dream of his: working for himself.

“I set up my own adventure company, doing the usual activities such as kayaking, team building and that sort of thing. It then progressed to something more extreme such as cliff jumping.”

After experimenting with more extreme activities, Stephen’s interest had piqued. He then started researching new and inventive ways to advance his adventure company.

“When I started the business, there was a guy running a firewalk in Belfast aimed at entrepreneurs. So I went to it, and loved it. I clearly remember the three times I walked over the firewalk, so it was something that made sense to get into at a later stage.

“But that opportunity never came up, until the guy from the firewalk in Belfast got in touch saying he was moving to Dubai. He had some charity firewalks in the diary and he needed someone to go and get trained, to honour the bookings for these charities.”

This led to Stephen training in Sweden.

“When I came back from Sweden, I had my first firewalk booking complete just ten days later. And it has just developed from there.”

Stephen Brown: Talking Team Building and Firewalking 1
Strabane man Stephen Brown is helping people overcome a multitude of fears by literally walking across hot coals. Image credit: The Business of Firewalking

To find out more about Stephen, firewalking and how this can help with team building, check out our full Business Leaders interview. To learn more about Firewalking International other services they offer – visit the official website

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