Some Bolivar City firefighters recently showed their competitive spirits and physical fitness in a regional Firefighter Combat Challenge in Branson Saturday, May 14. The group walked away with an individual and team qualifying for the nationally televised world competition in October in Montgomery, Ala.
According to BCFD Chief Jim Ludden, teams from all over the United States competed in the event in Branson, including the world record holders in individual and team events.
"The top five (competitors in the Branson competition) are the top five competitors in the world," Ludden said.
One Bolivar firefighter, Deputy Chief Adrian Brantley, stood out among the competition. Brantley was the only Bolivar firefighter to qualify for worlds in the individual event.
"When we're competing against world record holders, Adrian can hold his own," Ludden said. "We were really well-represented in both the individual and team competitions."
Competitors must complete the course in under two minutes to qualify for the world competition. Brantley finished the course in 1:59.55, barely squeaking by the cut off.
Overall, Brantley placed 13th out of the 52 competitors who completed the individual course in under six minutes.
Ludden said that among the 13 firefighters who qualified for worlds, only Brantley and one other firefighter do not compete in the firefighter challenges professionally.
During the individual competition, firefighters complete a rigorous course.
Wearing a 100-pound high-rise pack, full firefighter gear and a breathing apparatus with the air turned on, firefighters climb four flights of stairs carrying a 42-pound hose.
Once they come back down the stairs, they move a 60-pound loaded kaiser sled 5 feet with a mallet.
They then move on to a delineator course. Once they are past the barriers, the firefighters pull a charged hose line 100 feet and hit a target with the hose's spray.
Finally, they drag a 175-pound dummy backwards 100 feet to finish the course.
The other BCFD firefighters who competed in the individual competition were Ludden (2:48), firefighter Cole Pirkle (4:29) and firefighter Alex Doll (5:26).
The team competition varies slightly from the individual event.
Firefighters are not required to have their air turned on during the team event, and every person must be from the same department.
"The team members break up the components, and it's like a relay," Ludden said.
Once a team member finishes a leg, he or she passes a baton on to the next competitor.
Brantley, Ludden, Pirkle and Doll made up BCFD's team, finishing in 1:44 seconds, qualifying for world competition.
Ludden said the team placed fifth out of 10 teams.
This is the first time a team from BCFD has competed in a firefighter combat challenge.
Brantley completed the stair climb and hose hoist. Pirkle moved the kaiser sled. Doll completed the delineator course and hose target pull, and Ludden dragged the dummy to the finish line.
"I was really proud of them," Ludden said. "They did a fantastic job for their first time competing and our first time as a team."
Ludden said he hopes to get more firefighters involved in future competitions.