The increased emphasis on firefighter fitness is certainly a positive and something we could all wish to emulate. The firefighter combat challenge and various local events and in-house tests include items such as rescue drags, stretching hose lines up stairwells and the like. These are good simulations of fire ground activities.
Out in the country, however, sometimes things are a little different. I’ve come up with a few physical and dexterity tests from my own experience that might form the basis for a new challenge.
Ladder Throws: This isn’t your standard carry the ladder to the building and put it up. Mine requires the weather complexities regularly seen in the northern portions of the country. The contestant must carry, place, and extend a 24 ft. ground ladder to a building, but….must do it through two feet of snow, around three pick up trucks and an old tractor with four foot drifts in pitch black darkness. Try to avoid stepping in the forgotten child’s plastic swimming pool now filled with snow and ice.
Find the O2 Wrench: This test of dexterity is conducted in the back of a dimly lit ambulance going over a pot hole filled one lane dirt road at considerable velocity. The contestant must locate, pick up, and utilize an O2 wrench from the floor of the bouncing rig which is slick from melted snow, ice and other unmentionable liquids commonly found with nauseous patients. Hands will naturally be sheathed in latex gloves…..a minimum of one size too large—‘cause the ambulance captain figures one size fits all.
The Brush Fire Jog: This is done with boots, bunker pants, helmet, gloves, and a full five gallon metal Indian tank. Contestants will compete over a two mile smoke filled course with burning stumps and logs, along with ground hog holes and the ubiquitous cow pies; up hill (both ways). Weather conditions for this will include high 90s in both temperature and humidity. The contestant who holds the nozzle low to allow the tank to drain out may not win, but is definitely the smartest.
Country Hose Load: Pack 1000 feet of semi frozen 5 inch supply line in the back of a pick-up truck to take back to the station to thaw and reload. Gloves and bunker gear will be frozen and the pick-up driver will be sure to mention how warm it is in the cab every three minutes or so. The contestant will be judged on how quickly the mass of spaghetti can be piled into the truck. Points will be deducted for lengths lost while returning to the station. Needless to say this is another night time event.
I’m sure any “seasoned” country firefighter could add to this list, and hopefully new and more challenging (and evil) tests will arise. If you’ve experienced any or all of the above….you might be a redneck firefighter.