Air Force Academy firefighters smash own world record

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern
  • Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
An Air Force Academy team shattered their own world record Nov. 18 at the five-day 2009 Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge here.

The top-ranked ladies tandem team, dubbed "Old Dog, New Trick," beat their record with a time of 1:52.33 in the female relay event.

"I'm so excited; it was a clean, seamless run and everything went right for us," said Airman 1st Class Jessica Morehouse of the Academy Fire Department.

Airman Morehouse teamed up with Stacey Billapando, from the Colorado Springs, Colo., Fire Department, to break their old tandem record set the first day of the event with a time of 1:59.

This new world record time was more than 18 seconds faster than their nearest competitors.

"We're getting faster every time and this is the best shape all of us have been in," said Mrs. Billapando.

The Academy team raced against firefighters from around the world in five events that simulate real on the job situations. These events include a five-story tower climb, a hoist and chop, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized 175-pound "victim," while racing against themselves, their opponents and the clock. To make the event even more challenging, participants must wear their full bunker gear, including an air-breathing apparatus throughout the competition.

"We train on the course for hours in our gear," said Mrs. Billapando. "So when we get ready for a fire, there is no fear, we don't even hesitate."

Setting records is nothing new to this team. Mrs. Billapando and Airman Morehouse first broke the womens' tandem world record at the firefighter challenge regionals in Omaha, Neb., with a time of 2:06.22. Their next closest competitors clocked in at 3 minutes and 16 seconds.

A week later, the two set another world record with a time of 2:00.78 at the nationals in Arlington, Texas. This time they finished 40 seconds ahead of their closest competitors.

"They're awesome and they just put their team together this year," said Anthony McMurtry, an Academy mens team member. Mr. McMurtry is no stranger to setting records. He to holds a world record in the tandem competition.