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'Tough Fire' trials put firefighters to the test

POSTED: June 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Mar Torano, a recruit, helps to set up before the Tough Fire competition at the Hall County Fire Services Training Center Thursday as part of the as part of the 2008 Georgia Police & Fire Games .

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They made it look easy.

Despite wearing 60 pounds worth of firefighting gear, competitors in the Tough Fire event completed the series of trials in a matter of minutes.

About 15 firefighters from departments across the state took on the obstacle course, part of the weeklong Georgia Police & Fire Games, which was held at the Hall County Fire Services training
center.

The Georgia Police & Fire Games, law enforcement’s version of the Olympics, have been going on throughout the week at various sites in Hall County.

The Tough Fire competition gave firefighters the chance to showcase their training and vie for the gold.

"The skills they’ll need primarily are strength and cardiovascular fitness," said Sterling Strickland, a firefighter and paramedic with the Hall County fire
department.

These skills, in addition to encouragement from the

crowd and their fellow firefighters, pushed the competitors to the finish line.

After scaling five flights of stairs hauling a hose pack, competitors hoisted a hose to the top.

For Lt. Mark Arnold, who has been with the Hall County fire department for 20 years, the toughest part of the competition was the kaiser sled, because "it takes the whole body as a core" to manage it.

Upon reaching the kaiser sled, firefighters methodically alternated their breathing and hitting the 160 pound weight with the mallet, pushing it to the other end of the sled. These movements simulated a forcible entry.

Then, weaving through a serpentine cone course, competitors had to shoot a target with a fully charged firefighting hose.

This entails being able to control not only the 100 pounds of pressure per square inch forced out of the nozzle but also 50 pounds of back pressure created when aiming the hose at the target.

Finally, the competitors had to drag a 175-pound rescue dummy 100 feet to the finish line.

Arnold, who has taken part in the competition every year, said he set out to win.

"I’ve participated in this competition every year. It helps me to stay in shape and do the job," Arnold said. "It keeps me in the game."



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