ELKHART — For the first time, Elkhart will host an athletic competition that offers family fun and celebrates the everyday heroes on the fire department.

The Elkhart Fire Department is hosting the Scott Safety Firefighter Combat Challenge June 16 and 17, allowing the public to see how hard firefighting can be and how athletic firefighters actually are, according to Elkhart Fire Chief Chad Carey.

"It will definitely give them a better understanding of what we do," said Carey, who competed himself in the competition in other cities years ago. "It's a very rigorous event. It's an elite level of physical fitness."

Carey said competitors, who are all career firefighters, will be racing against the clock up a five-story tower while carrying a hose, pulling a hose, coming back down, hitting a sled, running through a maze while pulling a charged hoseline and then pulling a 150-pound dummy – all while dressed in full firefighting gear. Carey said some competitors will even be using their breathing gear as if it were a real fire situation.

"It's a pretty physical, intense event," he said.

The course is completed by both individuals and in teams as part of a relay. Carey said that his department has seven competitors signed up, but he's hoping they can get 10 to field two relay teams.

The Firefighter Combat Challenge is in its 25th year, according to the organizer's website, and hosts events around the country. Carey said winners of the Elkhart-hosted event will be eligible for the national competition, which will be hosted in Texas later this year before the world competition in Louisville, Kentucky, in October.

The course will be setup on High Street and Waterfall Drive, according to Carey. Alongside the challenge course will be a child-friendly version, which is less rigorous. Children will be able to dress up in firefighter's gear and try their hand at an inflatable course.

Carey said that Elkhart being a host city came about over a year ago when Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese's office approached the department about bringing events to the city.

"The mayor last year asked me if there were any events that we could bring to Elkhart and I said this and he said, 'We'll get it done,'" Carey said.

The event also coincides with the 150 year celebration of the Elkhart Fire Department, Carey said.

"This is kind of our kickoff to that," he said.

On June 16, a team from the Elkhart Fire Department will square off against a team from the Elkhart Police Department in a friendly competition starting at 4 p.m. to see which department can complete the course the quickest, Carey said. The police will compete in tactical gear, according to Carey.

Carey said he hopes that events such as this will allow the community to show their appreciation for firefighters and allow the men and women in the department to get a chance to see the community support they have.

"It will be good to show some appreciation for our firefighters," he said. "The amount of time and effort that they put into the community, it will be nice to have the community come out and support them."

For more information or to register, go to the organization's website, www.firefighterchallenge.com.

Schedule of Events

Friday

  • Guns and Hoses Challenge: Elkhart police vs. Elkhart fire - 5 p.m.
  • Individual and Team Competition will follow

Saturday

  • Opening ceremony - 12:30 p.m.
  • Relay and tandem competition - 2:30 p.m.

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