Air Force teams competing in firefighting championship Published Oct. 30, 2002 By Tech. Sgt. Michael A. Ward Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency Public Affairs DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (AFPN) -- About 56 Air Force firefighters from nine bases are here Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 for anything but a vacation. The firefighters are participating in the 11th annual Firefighter Combat Challenge world championship, billed as "the toughest two minutes in sports.""By the time they get to the finish line most will end up falling into the arms of the judges, totally out of breath, gasping for air and having expelled every ounce of energy in their bodies," said Chief Master Sgt. Carl Glover, Air Force fire protection program manager. "You have to be in top shape to run this course."More than 800 civilian and military firefighters from around the world are participating in the championship.Competitors, dressed in full firefighting gear, rush through a course that features a series of physical firefighting activities lined up back-to-back-to-back.Participants begin by carrying a 45-pound hose up six flights of steps, then quickly hoist another hose up those same six flights. Next they rush down the stairs (making sure to touch each step along the way) and drive a steel I-beam six feet down with a hard plastic sledge hammer. They then run 100 feet to a fully charged 1 3/4-inch hose, drag it 75 feet, open it and try to hit a target with the water stream. Finally, participants drag a 175-pound rescue mannequin 100 feet and across the finish line. A competitive time is 90 seconds or less."It's amazing to me that we have people who can do it," Glover said. "A lot of people would take 90 seconds to just run up six flights of steps."Air Force teams represent Altus and Vance Air Force bases in Oklahoma; Edwards and Travis AFBs, Calif.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Ramstein (two teams) and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany; Royal Air Force Mildenhall (two teams), England; and the Department of Defense Fire Academy at Goodfellow AFB, Texas.Last year the Air Force fielded five teams for the worldwide competition and four competed in the finals. The Travis team made it to the final eight, the DOD Fire Academy team advanced to the top 16 and teams from Ramstein and Edwards made it to the top 64. The fastest Air Force member in an individual event was Staff Sgt. A. J. Eversley from Travis. He timed out at 1:38.67.ESPN is covering the event and typically broadcasts the event several times in December and January. Broadcast dates and times will be announced later this year.