Firefighters come to Kentucky to compete in combat challenge

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Firefighters from across the country are in Lexington this weekend to demonstrate their strength and skills.

For the fourth year, the Firefighter Combat Challenge is being held at the Lexington Green.

"This course is very, very intense," says Doug Thompson, a Lexington firefighter competing in the challenge. "When you watch somebody go through it doesn't look near as hard as what it really is.

It's known as the "toughest two minutes in sports." Each year, real-life firefighters compete in Combat Challenges in 25 different areas across the country. Kentucky holds the largest of these shows.

"What you'll see here today is something that a firefighter can encounter every single day," says Ronnie Day, Executive Director of the Governor's Fire Commission. "Every aspect of this course they do is part of the fire service and they pride themselves on that."

More than a hundred firefighters, from different states and here at home, are competing in this year's challenge. It simulates the demands of real-life firefighting through a series of tasks. That includes climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized 175 lb. "victim."

"It's really a combination of strength and cardio," Thompson explains. "Your cardio has to be very good to complete this course, but at the same time, you have to have a lot of upper body strength and lower body strength to get through it."

Competitors also must wear "full bunker gear" as well as their air pack breathing apparatus. It's a race against themselves, their opponent and the clock.

But it's not just about showing off their skills, it's also about teamwork.

"You can't be a firefighter without being a team player," Day says. "There's just no way possible and everybody here knows it."

Because at the end of the day, it takes a crew of these men and women to work together and achieve their goal.

The Firefighter Combat Challenge will continue Sunday at 10 a.m.

Competitors who qualify will advance to the World Challenge in Phoenix, Arizona later this year.

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