Firefighters put their rescue skills to test

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Clovis Firefighter Jarod Baldwin drags Rescue Randy during a competition Thursday between firefighters. Randy, a training dummy, weighs 180 pounds.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

As Chad Healer ran from challenge to challenge, his teammates chanted his name along with words of encouragement.

He climbed a 70-foot ladder, carried a hose up the grandstands, used a poker to open an 80-pound roof, crawled on his hands and knees with his eyes covered, dragged 180 pounds of dead weight — all part of an obstacle course set up to test his ability as a firefighter.

Healer was among a group of local firefighters involved in a skills and fitness competition Thursday at the Curry County Fairgrounds.

Battalion Chief Tim Peterson said he organized the competition between the firefighters under his command to build camaraderie, raise morale and encourage fitness.

“We’re looking for other ways to build camaraderie and team spirit,” Peterson said. “And physical fitness is pretty important to me.”
Peterson’s 21 firefighters were split into three teams, each with a captain.

Running through the obstacle course Thursday, each firefighter got a time for their total run, which was contributed to the team’s overall score.

“(Each challenge is) tough, but not that hard. When you do them back to back, that’s hard,” he said.

Peterson said the teams have been preparing for about three weeks and a lot of good-natured ribbing has resulted, lifting morale as he hoped.

“It worked. These guys are calling each other names and all that,” he said.

Stripping off his gear from his run, Healer said he enjoyed the competition. The ladder climb was difficult, he said. “Seventy feet at a seventy-five degree angle — it’s hell. It makes your legs feel rubbery,” he said, out of breath.

Peterson said the course will be used for new applicants, who will go through physical testing this weekend, but said in the future, the department will require all employees to test on the course once a year.

Firefighter Steve Logan liked the idea of competing against each other.

“This is the first time they ever made current employees go through it,” he said heading for his gear, ready to take his turn.