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April 09, 2020
Fast firefighters qualify for world competition
Updated On: Aug 13, 2008
Grand Island Firefighter Justin Ferris drags the Rescue Randy dummy outside Station Four Monday morning. Ferris was practicing after his relay team qualified this past weekend to compete in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championships in Las Vegas in November.


Grand Island firefighters are not only good at firefighting and rescue.

They're also fast -- a minute, 44 seconds fast.

That's the time five city firefighters logged on Saturday in a regional runoff that qualified them for the Scott Firefighters Combat Challenge World Championships on Nov. 11 through 15 in Las Vegas.

Qualifying is no small feat.

The five firefighters have to run the fire relay in less than two minutes.

In those two minutes:

-- The first member (Jeff Engberg) must pick up a 40-pound hose pack, throw it over his shoulder, carry it up five flights of stairs and drop it in a box.

-- The second member (Phil Brown) leans over the railing and uses a rope to pull up a 42-pound roll of hose in a bag. The hose is pulled over the railing and set in a box. The firefighter then has to run down five flights of stairs, hitting every step.

-- The third member (Jim Hale) then takes a sledge and drives a 160-pound wedge five feet on a sled.

-- The fourth member (Todd Morgan) runs a 125-foot obstacle course, weaving in and out, then grabs a 1 3/4-inch, fully charged hose and runs back 75 feet, through saloon doors, and squirts a target until it drops.

-- The anchor man (Justin Ferris) grabs a 175-pound rescue dummy and drags it 106 feet to finish the relay.

It's all while wearing 45 pounds of firefighting gear. Between every member, a baton -- in this case, a firefighting flashlight -- is passed.

"Guys just drop at the end," Morgan said. "But it's fun. It's a real sense of accomplishment."

Every member is practicing his individual part to prepare for the fall competition.

"We're fine-tuning" to avoid penalty points, Ferris said.

Monday morning, he was outside Station No. 4, making dummy drag passes with the department's Rescue Randy doll.

"I ran my part in 15 seconds," he said.

Ferris said the trick in the dummy drag is to get the dummy up and off the ground as much as possible, as quickly as possible because it's easier to pull with the dummy in your arms than on the ground.

That initial weight includes the dummy's 175 pounds, plus Ferris' 45 pounds of equipment and his own 245 pounds of body weight on his 6-foot-2-inch frame.

Fire Chief Jim Rowell watched Ferris practice Monday morning and praised the team. The department is about fitness, and this competition goes toward that, Rowell said.

Morgan said the team needs to raise about $5,000 to $7,000 to make the Las Vegas trip. Paul Davis Restoration sponsored the team's regional competition.

Anyone wanting to donate, or wanting more information, can call Morgan at 382-2179. Donations can be sent to the Firefighter Combat Challenge, Local 647, 4075 Palace Drive, Grand Island, NE 68803.

IAFF Local 647
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