BRANDON (WJTV) – For the firefighters involved, the Scott Safety Firefighter Combat Challenge is not just a competition.
“It’s taken on a whole new meaning for many of us from around the world,” Mississippi State Fire Academy instructor Clarence Parks said.
The competition, which started on Friday and ends on Saturday at Lakeshore Park in Brandon, brings firefighters from Canada, Kuwait and all over the United States. They face each other in a race consisting of various tasks to demonstrate the high level of physical fitness required for the job and simulate what they go through on the job. Firefighters climb towers, hoist weights, drag hoses and much more in an effort to defeat their opponent and set a personal record for themselves.
For firefighters like Parks, it’s an opportunity to try and teach his colleagues about what’s needed to do the job.
“It kind of goes back to me loving my job,” Parks said. “Understanding the importance of physical fitness when it comes to doing your job, this is just really more accolades toward that. So for me personally, it really helps out when it comes to being able to be a mentor to other firefighters and showing them how important it is because I’m now almost 40-years-old. We have a lot of younger guys coming into the fire service who are 18, 19, 20-years-old. Of course if I can continue to lead by example about the importance of physical fitness, I want to continue doing that.”
For competitors like Beau Gunter, a firefighter from Tuscaloosa, Ala., the challenge lets him enjoy some of his past with his occupation.
“I’m an ex-collegiate athlete so it kind of offers both of them together,” Gunter said. “I get to do part of my job, plus continue to have the competitive drive to train for stuff and compete against everybody else.”
Gunter said the relationships built through the competition’s circuit are strong.
“We become family at these competitions,” Gunter said. “You stay in contact. You talk about training regimens that you have because you’re trying to push each other to be better.”
The event continues on Saturday with the relay and tandem competition beginning at 10 a.m.