Members of the Altus Team Dr. Pepper firefighters were in Montgomery, Ala., this past week competing in the Scott Firefighter Combat World Challenge XXIV. There were more than 700 firefighters competing, representing 14 countries and 28 states.
Just like in the competitions that local onlookers have seen in area events, competitors performed a series of five events that include running up the stairs of a high-rise, “rescuing” a victim, and using heavy hammers and other equipment. Although these “fastest time” events look like a game to some, the events actually use techniques that firefighters need in emergency situations on a regular basis.
Altus Team Captain Jimmy Rogers said, “It was pretty amazing to see not only the turn out of competitors, but also the quality of competitors.” Rogers reported that there were nine world records broken throughout the week and that competition was tough in every category.
Retired Captain Tommy Sadler was one of the world record breakers. He and Chuck LeBlanc from Leominster, Mass., broke their own world record for an over-65 tandem race. They beat it by nine seconds and finished third in the over-60 category.
Rogers reported that he and Terry Hawkins, of Tyler, Texas, are the reigning national champions, and ran the second fastest qualifying time throughout the week. The final day wasn’t so kind, as Rogers got tangled in the rope at the top of the tower and had to stop to take it off of his leg. Then a fall at the base of the tower took them completely out of medal contention.
“I felt like I was in the clown show and trying to see how many ways I could mess up,” joked Rogers.
The good news is that retired Altus Fire Chief Kenny Ward and his tandem partner Rick Portilloz of Sand Springs, finished third with a new personal record. The over-50 Dr Pepper relay team had some good preliminary races, setting a new state record at 1:20.87, and qualifying third in the seeding rounds during the first four days. The eight team bracket included teams from four countries USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Germany. After winning the first round against the Iron Horse 60+ all-star team (which included Tommy Sadler), Altus moved into an extremely competitive final four. The semifinals paired them against the top US team “Old Blood and Guts”. They are the current world record holders and reigning world champions.
“It was a good race, but we had a couple of mistakes that cost us,” said Rogers. “When you get to this stage, there is no margin for error.” Altus moved to the consolation round to face “Team Tarheels” from North Carolina. Altus ran a clean race to win the race handily, and claim the bronze medal. The Canadian All-Star team finished second.
“It was a successful trip and we are thrilled to bring home a few medals,” said Rogers. “The times just keep getting faster, so we have to work hard in the off season to keep pace!”
The young Dr Pepper team couldn’t make it this year because of scheduling conflicts, but the future looks very bright for them.
“We appreciate the guys that were home and covered shifts for us. Without their support, this would not be possible,” Rogers said. “We also want to thank James and Carla Thompson from Vernon Dr Pepper for their continued support, as well as, the businesses and citizens of Altus. We have the best support and fans of all!”
Reach Michael Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org