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Academy firefighters douse competition to take ‘World’s Best’ title

Firefighter Challenge 2017By Laurie Wilson, Nov. 1, 2017

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Firefighters assigned to the Air Force Academy beat the competition at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge XXVI Worlds, Oct. 27 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The annual challenge promotes physical fitness among firefighters and demonstrates the physical and mental stress firefighters can face on the job.

Competing firefighters were protective suits and breathing apparatus’ while climbing a 5-story tower, dragging hoses and a 175-pound “victim” and racing against their opponents.

The Over-40 relay team of 10th Civil Engineering Squadron firefighters Hans Barkley, Roy Dalton, Anthony McMurtry, Pat Kraft, and Fire Chief Ken Helgerson, bested the competition by nine seconds, a large margin in the timed race.

“I normally wait until they get to the second [tower] landing to determine the lead, but when Hans got to the first landing so quick, I was like, ‘we got a lead,’” Dalton said.

Helgerson joined a combined team for the Over-50 Relay race, taking an individual first place in the category. Over-50 relay teams are often comprised of firefighters from various departments as there are few competitors in that age bracket.

Helgerson said beating-out the competition shows that the 68 firefighters assigned to the Academy can take the heat from some of the world’s largest fire departments.

“[I give a] shout out to all the competitors for being fit,” he said. “We’re making sure we can actually do the job that people are paying us to do when we get back to the station.”

The Academy is a world power in this competition, with a string of championships since 2002.

Visit www.firefighterchallenge.com for more information.