Fire Fighter Challenge Heats Up Farmers Day
By Summer Hennings
In a competition sure to stump the average man, firefighters from across the county will showcase their strength and skills at Robbins Farmers Day.
The fourth annual Fire Fighter Challenge, hosted and run by the Robbins Fire Department, offers a different entertainment opportunity for Farmers Day attendees. Teams of firefighters will participate in five tests to prove that their department has the toughest and most able members.
Jefferey Chriscoe, a lieutenant at the Robbins Fire Department, says that although the competition is difficult, it keeps firefighters in shape and is fun for viewers and participants. This year's event will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, in front of the City Hall. With participants from Moore and other surrounding counties, the competition is sure to be tough.-
"It's anybody's ball game," Chriscoe says. "It's going to be interesting to see."
Chriscoe has set up and officiated the Fire Fighter Challenge since it began four years ago. Robbins Fire Department created the event because it was looking for something new to contribute to the Farmers Day festivities. They used their own experiences as inspiration. The Robbins Fire Department has participated in similar challenges in Moore, Randolph and Brunswick counties.
Five Part Competition
The Farmers Day Challenge consists of five tests: the Rescue Randy Drag, the Hammer Sled, the Hose Advance, the Quick Dress and the Truck Connect.
Each competition mimics real-life situations that firefighters face during a crisis. They are designed to test their skills and fitness levels under extreme circumstances.
In the Rescue Randy Drag, participants will drag a 200 pound dummy 100 feet, similar to rescuing someone from a building. The Hammer Sled prepares firefighters to forcefully enter a structure - they must drive a sled with about 75 pounds of weight forward and back by hitting it with a 10-pound sledge hammer. The Quick Dress tests how fast firefighters can put on all of their gear. In the Hose Advance, participants must drag 150 feet of line, charged and pressurized with water, 100 feet and then shoot at a target. The Truck Connect times how fast firefighters can hook hose up to the truck and then drag it 75 feet.
All competitions are done while wearing full gear, which weighs around 40 to 50 pounds.
"I think they're all pretty tough," says Brian Tyner, Carthage Fire Department chief. "They test your skills as far as being a fireman."
Tyner has competed in similar events and says that Carthage will participate at the Robbins Fire Fighter Challenge. Other participants include fire departments from Whispering Pines, Eagle Springs, Pine Bluff, Asheboro and Seagrove.
Departments have until the end of July to sign teams up for the challenge.
Whispering Pines Fire Department will send the competition's first all-female team.
"I think they'll get some eyebrows raised, but I think that adds a psych-out factor for some of their competitors who aren't used to competing against women," Whispering Pines Chief Scott Bullard says.
Bullard adds that the high number of women in his department signifies a major step forward for emergency response services and for women in general. He believes his team will compete well in the challenge and looks forward to seeing members of other departments.
"I see (the competition) as a chance to get together with people you don't see very often," Bullard says. "It's got a nice social aspect to it."
Both the Whispering Pines and Carthage fire chiefs say their teams have been training or practicing for the competition, something Chriscoe believes is a necessity.
"You've got to be prepared for it," Chriscoe says. "We'll train for a couple of months in advance to try and get everything down pat (for other competitions)."
Chriscoe does not anticipate the heat being an issue for participants. They will have plenty of water and Gatorade available as well as paramedics on the scene for "just in case." He says he will make the firefighters take their gear off immediately after competing.
"That stuff gets really hot quick," he adds. "It puts a big strain on your body."
Chriscoe adds that at other departments where firefighters are paid (opposed to volunteer departments). members train regularly for these events and some compete at the national level.
The Firefighter Combat Challenge began in 1991 after a group of scientists conducted a study measuring the physical demands of firefighting. The study based a lot of research off of a series of tasks that formed the base for the original Firefighter Combat Challenge. Since then, the event has grown through local events and televised coverage. ESPN has shown the World Challenge Championships for the past 10 years.
Locally, the challenge serves as an opportunity for fun and amusement - while the firefighters do the work, we average folks can gape in awe and cheer them on.
"If I could ask for anything," Bullard says, "we would like more spectators from the general public."
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