By Butch Wehry
Academy Spirit staff
After Friday and Saturday’s Firefighter Challenge here, the Academy firefighters are readying for the World Firefighter Challenge in November.
“This is the first Air Force base to host a regional firefighter combat challenge event,” said Ken Helgerson, Academy deputy fire chief. “There has been one other event at another installation, but it was closed to the public. This event brought in competitors from as far away as Florida.”
The Firefighter Combat Challenge was originally developed to find an exercise routine directly related to the job that would ensure the fitness of the firefighters. Performing the tasks in order ensures a great workout and makes for difficult competition.
Although not a requirement, the competition showcases the skills of our firefighters, said the deputy fire chief.
Among last week’s approximately 150 firefighters competing, Academy participants included Airman 1st Class Steven Cimochowski, Dan McAuliffe, Staff Sgt. Tanner Derosier, Tech. Sgt. Aaron Duggins, Elaine Perkins, Andrea Caraway and Airman 1st Class Jessica Morehouse.
Every competitor who trained for this event was a volunteer. Each primarily used this course to prepare for the rigors of structural firefighting.
“This event was unbelievable,” said Mr. Helgerson. “We were able to encourage 28 of our firefighters to participate, which not only increased their level of physical fitness, but also enhanced their fire-fighting skills. In addition, the level of community involvement was incredible, from sponsors of the event to the numbers of local competitors.”
The firefighter combat challenge involves a specific training regimen involving common firefighting skills, but to put them all together to compete requires intense training.
“Our firefighters will continue to train until the national championship in October, and through the world championship in November,” Mr. Helgerson said.
The department responds to a variety of emergencies, including more than 500 responses already this year involving medical emergencies, vehicle accidents, mountain rescues as well as structural emergencies.
The event drew a large number of interested spectators.
“We estimated the crowd on the first evening at 500, which was great considering the storm that moved in just as we were ready to begin,” said the deputy fire chief. “The Saturday crowd was over 1,000. I think the event was so successful because the venue is so beautiful, and it was well advertised in the media.”