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Fire Department brings the heat in firefighter combat challenge

Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Ricks, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, runs through the serpentine course at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Ricks, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, runs through the serpentine course at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Ricks, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, hits a tire with a hammer at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Ricks, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, hits a tire with a hammer at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

A make-shift baton is passed between two firemen as they train at the Keesler Fire Department for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

A make-shift baton is passed between two firemen as they train at the Keesler Fire Department for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Senior Airman Jonathan Martinez, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, knocks down a cone with a fire hose at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Senior Airman Jonathan Martinez, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, knocks down a cone with a fire hose at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Rusty Bell, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, completes a 100-foot “dummy drag” while receiving encouragement by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Noah, 81st ID station chief, at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Rusty Bell, 81st Infrastructure Division firefighter, completes a 100-foot “dummy drag” while receiving encouragement by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Noah, 81st ID station chief, at the Keesler Fire Department as he trains for the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week, May 4, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Four members from the fire department competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Four members of the Keesler Fire Department recently qualified to represent Team Keesler at the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Wild Card Week in Montgomery, Ala. in October.

The team competed in the qualifying round at Lake Charles, La., Apr. 30, where they demonstrated their skills in various events wearing full firefighter uniforms.

“The competition helps simulate what a firefighter would go through on a daily basis,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Noah, 81st Infrastructure Division station chief. “It helps test the firefighters to see how well they perform under stress.”

The competition, originally designed as a study of cardiopulmonary endurance and muscular fitness in the 1970s, became a local firefighter event in 1991. It has now become a worldwide competition of military and civilian teams competing against each other in five different events.

“The different stages consist of running up a five-story tower, hoisting a 42-pound fire hose up the five-story tower, running back down the tower and hitting a Kaiser sled,” said Noah. “From there you would navigate a 140-foot serpentine, drag a 75-foot charged fire hose to hit a target with a stream of water and then carry a 175-pound mannequin for 100 feet.”

Led by Noah, a firefighter combat challenge competitor since 2005, the team practiced for three weeks leading up to the qualifying round. Using tools normally found at the fire station for practice helped give the three members with no competition experience the training they needed to hold their own against veteran competitors.

“It feels good to compete at this level as a newer member,” said Senior Airman Jonathan Martinez, 81st ID firefighter. “This is our first time to really learn and go against guys who have been training for years together. I know if we can do this good with just three weeks of training, we can definitely take it to the next level.”

With practice and a little bit of competitive spirit, the four-man team is ready to step into the major leagues.

“I’m excited because this is the first competitive thing I’ve been able to do since I was in high school football,” said Martinez. “It feels good to have that competitive spirit and to break up the habit of just showing up to work every day. It gives me a different goal to work toward while in the military. I like winning and that’s what we are here to do.”

If the team does well enough during wild card week, they will advance to the 2016 Firefighter Combat Challenge Competition Finals also held in Montgomery.