One of Williamson’s own, a firefighter with the Williamson Fire Department, is competing in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge.
Garret Gregory, 26, of Williamson, is entering the competition. Wearing full bunker gear and a breathing apparatus, he will undergo the simulations which recreate the physical demands of real-life firefighting by performing a linked series of five tasks, including climbing a 5-story tower and rescuing a life-sized 175 lb. “victim.”
“He’s one of our young career firefighters,” Chief Jerry Mounts said of Gregory, “and one of the best athletes Williamson High School ever had.”
Gregory is a 2003 graduate of WHS.
The regional event is in August in Charleston and so far, Gregory has been training six months for this event. If he wins there, he gets an invitation to the nationals.
Besides basic exercises, like running on a treadmill and lifting weights, he also simulates the challenges he’ll be performing.
“In full gear, I run up the stairwell and back down twice, hoist a hose up the tower, hit a tire with a 10 lb. sledgehammer, and drag a 175 lb. dummy,” Gregory said.
He times himself while he does this, and in his first time doing it, he finished it in 2:30.
“Not bad, but the record is 1:16 or something,” Gregory said.
He performs this simulation on occasion, but as the event draws closers, he plans to do it every two weeks. And competing in this challenge feels right to Gregory.
“I like competition. Always been a competitor at heart,” Gregory said. “And what better way to do it than incorporate your job into it?”
Gregory, who is married with four kids, said that his exercises has encouraged others in the firehouse to get into shape. Gregory tries to work out every shift he’s on, so the other firefighters must have seen his dedication.
“By him taking this on, it has inspired our other career firefighters to start exercising more,” Mounts said.
Not only do these exercises help the stresses and demands of such a physical job, it also helps them perform better.
“In a fire, you can be sucking down air fast. Other guys will suck down three bottles of oxygen and have to go back for more while I could still be on my first. It lets me get more done faster,” Gregory said.
To figure out his training and what it would consist of, Gregory watched videos online and began working on his cardio and upper body strength.
“The hardest part is dragging that rope up 5-stories. I’m fighting gravity the entire way,” Gregory said.
The challenge is no small feat. It was typically broadcast on EPSN for many years, but Versus now carries it. The challenge consists of a high rise pack carry, in which the competitor carries a 42 lb. hose up a tower; a hose hoist which involves hoisting a 42 lb. hose up with a rope; a keiser force machine, in which the firefighter uses a 9 lb. mallet to drive a sled he or she is standing upon; a hose drag, where the competitor drags a hose 140 feet without knocking any delineator over; and a victim rescue, where the firefighter carries a 175 lb. dummy backwards 100 feet.
All this while wearing 50 lbs. of gear. And the events must be completed in succession as quickly as possible and each event has special rules, which, if broken, can penalize the firefighter’s time.
But Gregory is sure of himself. He feels like he can enter the challenge in his first year and win, earning himself an invitation to the nationals.
“I’m confident that with my job and being athletic, I can win. Winning is what I do,” Gregory said. “And I’d put our guys (in the firehouse) up against anybody.”