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     The City of Pittsfield is excited to announce that the “3M Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge” will be held here for a regional competition in 2019.  The event will take place June 14th and 15th and is sponsored by Lenco Rescue Vehicles and Berkshire Bank. There will also be a scaled down version of the event called the Greylock Federal Credit Union Kid’s Crawl, Drag, and Squirt Course. The kid’s course is free to children ages 4-12. This event takes place over the course of 2 days. The full competition course, as seen on ESPN for over a decade and now televised on FFCC.com and ESPN3, will be set up at Berkshire Crossing where everyone will be invited to join us for this event free.  We will have OUR own Pittsfield and local Berkshire County firefighters competing. There will be firefighters from across the state and country attending as well. There will even be firefighters from Canada and possibly other countries travelling for this exciting event. Retired firefighters are welcome to compete also.

 

     The Challenge annually attracts hundreds of U.S. and Canadian municipal fire departments at more than 25 locations and is now expanding to countries around the world, including New Zealand, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Dubai, Slovenia, France and South Africa. The Challenge seeks to encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the profession's rigors to the public. Wearing "full bunker gear" and the SCOTT Air-Pak breathing apparatus, pairs of competitors race head-to-head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting by performing a linked series of five tasks including climbing the 5-story tower carrying a 45# hose pack, hoisting a 42# hose pack from the ground, chopping a 160# I-beam to move it 5’, dragging charged hoses and dragging a life-sized, 175 lb. "victim" 100’ as they race against themselves, their opponent and the clock.  There is a national event held each year to see who is the “best of the best” in the United States.  Shortly after that, there is a World competition in which all of the countries compete for the World titles.  There are both male and female firefighters ranging from ages 18 to 70 competing.  It was deemed “The Toughest Two Minutes in Sports” by ESPN. 

 

     The Challenge was born the day that Chief David Gratz, Montgomery County, MD, walked into the Human Performance Laboratory at the Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland in July, 1974. His interest was immediate - he needed a validated test. The mission: develop a physical ability test to determine whether a job applicant had the requisite capabilities to perform the essential job functions of a firefighter.

 

     With US Fire Administration funding, the research design was laid out. It required the cooperation of fire departments in seven Washington, DC, political jurisdictions, each providing a representative sample of firefighters proportionate to its relative size. Ultimately 100 randomly selected firefighters underwent a battery of fitness tests at the Human Performance Laboratory that included measures of cardiopulmonary performance and muscular fitness.

 

     Concurrent with the fitness tests and with the assistance of the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI), Drs. Dotson and Davis designed a criterion task test (CTT) employing five commonly performed or highly critical fire ground evolutions. Each of the 100 firefighters performed the five tasks successively while wearing full protective ensemble (including SCBA) "in the same manner as at the scene of a fire." After all testing, the results of the laboratory fitness measures were statistically correlated against the CTT performances. This landmark study demonstrated a high correlation between personal fitness and job performance. That was in 1976.

 

     In 1991, Dr. Davis hit upon an idea that would eventually become the Challenge. He had observed the competitive nature of firefighters during the initial testing back in 1976. So, he thought, "why not devise a competition that would highlight the unique nature of the fire service and showcase the talents and capabilities of firefighters." The CTT seemed the perfect "vehicle" for the task.

 

     In early 1991, he approached the Washington, DC, Council of Governments to get support for his idea, briefing the various fire chiefs on his concept for the competition. With their approval he worked with the Fire Training Officer Sub-committee and came up with the rules for the competition. Everything was ready.

 

     Sunday, May 5, 1991, teams from five departments in the D.C. metropolitan area gathered to christen what would become the Firefighter Combat Challenge. Quiet as church mice while instructions and rules were given, the several hundred spectators erupted spontaneously as the first competitor made his way to the top of the tower. The crowd's response told Davis that he was onto something. TV coverage and a four-page color story in Fire Chief magazine added credibility to the event. Although that was the only event that first year, the seeds of competition had been sown. The next year, 1992, with DuPont as the presenting sponsor, saw seven competitions and the first truly national championship held during the International Association of Fire Chiefs' (IAFC) annual meeting in Anaheim, CA. By 1993, the Challenge had expanded to twelve events spread across the nation. ESPN initiated its coverage of the Challenge at the National Championship.

 

     There are 3 ways to compete:

 

    - Individuals – Completing the entire course individually, in full gear on breathing air

    - 3-5 firefighters from the same department may each run the individuals as a team.  The top 3 individual times of that team will be added together for ranking in the Team category.

    - Categories for individuals are: Female, Male Open, Male over 40, Male over 50, Male over 55, Male over 60 and Chief’s division.  

    - Tandems – A two person team.  Each doing half of the course with a handoff in the middle in full gear – NOT on breathing air

    - Categories are: Female, Co-ed, Male Open, Male over 40, Male over 50, Male over 55, and Male over 60.

     - Relays – A team of 3-5 firefighters each completing a task on the course.  They hand off after each task like a relay.  In full gear – NOT on breathing air.

     - Categories are: Female, Male Open, Male over 40, and Male over 50, and Male over 60.

 

     For more information about the Challenge course, registration and rules go to www.firefighterchallenge.com.

 

For more information about the Pittsfield event – you may e-mail dgarner@cityofpittsfield or call Dan Garner @ 413-448-9754.  The Individual races will be held Friday June 14th starting at 5pm.  The tandem and relay races will be held Saturday the 15th starting at 10:30am. The Kid's course will be open Friday 4-end of racing and on Saturday 10-end of racing.

 

We hope to see you come out and support our local and visiting heroes!

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