Firefighters Gear Up For Combat Challenge - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/18/07-Tyler

Firefighters Gear Up For Combat Challenge

They risk their lives every day to save others, but who's to say they can't have a little fun with it too.  Tyler firefighters spent Saturday morning running, hauling, grunting and hammering all for practice.  They showed KLTV 7 how they're getting ready for the regional firefighters Combat Challenge coming up in just two weeks.

They hammer, rescue victims, and run with a 50 pound hose full of water. It's stuff they do almost every day, but right now they're practicing for a very serious competition.

"It's all bragging rights," says Tyler firefighter Brent Hail.  It's called the Combat Challenge and it's for firefighters worldwide.  Teams from all over vying for the best time in a five part relay.

"The sledgehammer simulates a hole in the roof, dragging the dummy is a victim rescue," said Tyler firefighter Terry Hawkins.  "Basically, everything is fire related, so everything is job related."  They practice on their own time and travel on their own dime, but they say it's well worth it.

"It's a motivator for me because as long as I can come out here and do this, I feel that I can do my job," says Don Williams, the longest-running team member.  They say what keeps them coming back each year, aside from winning, of course, is the fun they have together.

"Oh, we have a great deal of fun," said Hawkins.  "We enjoy traveling together.  We're very fortunate everybody gets along great on the team."

Most importantly, though, they say participating in the Combat Challenge is really about helping East Texans. 

"We are preparing for the competition, but also for the citizens," said Hail.  "This is part of our job and we want them to know that we're ready when they need us.  I mean that's what we're here for."  It's a way to become the best they can be and hopefully the team to beat.

"Just cause we're old don't mean that we're out of the race by any means," said Hail.  Last year, the team placed third in their age division at the world competition.  This year's regional round is in Tyler August 31st and September 1st at Broadway Square Mall.  Admission is free.

Tracy Watler, Reporting. tracy@kltv.com  

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