Tyler Firefighters Featured Act on ESPN - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/06/02 - Tyler

Tyler Firefighters Featured Act on ESPN

They're in the profession of saving lives, but do they have grace under fire?

That's the question the "Firefighter Combat Challenge" poses at its world competition each year. The games are not for the anaerobically challenged, but as Tyler's team learned last month, making it through can land you a spot ESPN2. The cable channel will broadcast the competition January 11 and 24. The actual games were filmed in Deerfield Beach, Florida, last month.

Tyler's team of seven secured tenth place during group relays, while veteran firefighter Don Williams placed second in his age category.

"They're all in top notched shape," says Williams. "They're world class athletes."

And these athletes have their work cut out for them.

"The challenge starts with you picking up your full gear, which includes an air pack," explains firefighter Terry Hawkins. "You then pick up a 45 pound hose load, run to the top of a four story tower, put it down and hoist up a 45 pound donut roll."

Much like a regular fire, the crew has little time to exit. And if their four story descent is not hard enough, a metal contraption with a 165 lb slab on top greets them at the door. With a sledge hammer the crew pounds away on the slab, making it slide five feet.

The last grueling task, which includes running with a hose and pulling a 190 pound dummy to safety. While the games are for fun, Williams says they have a greater importance.

"It lets the community see what their firefighters are doing, and what kind of condition they are in," says Williams. "It shows them that the team is physically fit and able to meet the emergencies they're called on."

And with the 2003 competition still to come, the team is heating up, hoping other teams will crack under their pressure later this year.

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