PEARL, Miss. (WLBT) - Firefighters are among the toughest and most physically fit among first responders. Thursday they found out just how much they can take as they put their bodies to the test.
The 2021 Firefighter Combat Challenge is taking place at the Mississippi State Fire Academy. McNeill Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donny Leonard is competing in it.
“I’ve been doing his since 2011,” said Leonard. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done for sure."
He is among 100 Mississippi firefighters in the event designed to simulate physical challenges they face in real life emergencies.
The challenges are carrying weights up a five story training tower and mastering an obstacle course which includes pulling a 175 rescue dummy to safety.
“You should be able to do something like this if you’re going to be in the fire service,” said Leonard. “It’s very, very important that you’re fit for duty and this event here mimics several things that a firefighter will do."
Leonard’s daughter Kacie, a firefighter with the Picayune Fire Department, is also hitting the course.
“You can never train enough for a job that can kill you,” said Kacie Leonard. “So I try to always keep that in my head whenever I’m trying to train hard for this job and try to do my best."
The Firefighter Combat Challenge has traveled across the country and Canada for 29 years promoting first responder fitness and health and continues despite the pandemic.
“Firefighting and their training can not stop. When those 911 calls go out they’re going out into very tough, very unsafe conditions, but they have to go,” said Scott 3M Firefighter Combat Challenge Operating Manager.
“It’s a super treat for Mississippi firefighters to come here to what’s considered the toughest two minutes in sports,” said MS State Fire Academy Instruction Chief Steven Ashby. “It promotes physical fitness so we can perform our jobs when it’s called upon to do so."
The Firefighter Combat Challenges continues Friday.