By JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
WILLIAMSON - Williamson Fire Department Chief Jerry Mounts yesterday hosted the first Firefighter’s Challenge, and firefighters from four area departments answered the call.
The Challenge tested the firefighters’ physical endurance, skills and abilities to perform under pressure. Contestants ran up and down flights of stairs, pulled firehouses, carried equipment and performed duties they use everyday when answering calls to a fire.
Mounts created the course himself.
“The course is very similar to the test applicants for our civil service take when they apply,” he said.
Firefighters raced against each others’ time in the single challenge, while two-person teams competed in the team challenge.
Among those competing was Lt. Sarah “Buffy” Ooten of the Lenore Volunteer Fire Department. She, along with Assistant Chief Dave Newsome, worked together in the two-person team competition.
Wearing full firefighting gear, Ooten climbed numerous flights of stairs, pulled a fire hose and also a training dummy up with a rope, simulating a rescue operation.
The only female on the squad, she is also one of three certified scuba divers on the Lenore Department.
She said she took up the challenge to show her mettle.
“I wanted to prove that just because I’m a girl, doesn’t mean I can’t do what they do,” Ooten said.
Mounts said he hopes the Firefighter’s Challenge will become an annual event.
“I want to have it every year,” he said. “I hope we can tweak the course a little and have more participants.”
Results of the Firefighters Challenge will be announced today at the Fifth Annual Mingo County Fire and Rescue School.