By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Firefighters from local agencies competed in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge held in Florida.
The results earned in the competition have qualified a number of local firefighters for a spot to compete in the World Competition set for October of this year in Las Vegas, said Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Seal.
Seal said the Five Elderly Challenge Rookies, consisting of himself, Chris Banks, Donny Leonard, Ronny Reynolds and Tony Scharenbrock, qualified for the World Championship by earning a time of 1:47.
The competition involves a course that simulates many of the tasks a firefighter performs while responding to fires, including pulling a charged fire hose a certain distance before hitting a target with a spray of water, hoisting a hose up several stories of a building, rescuing an adult-sized mannequin and chopping, all with the best time possible.
The course can be completed as a relay, such as done by the Five Elderly Challenge Rookies, or solo. Seal said Leonard also competed in the solo event, qualifying for the World Competition in that category as well with a time of 2:18.
Meanwhile the Yamacraw Mudcats, which consists of Seal, his daughter Erin, Reynolds and his son Joey, and Vincent Frisella ran a respectable 2:06 time in the course. However, it was not a time that helped them advance, Seal said.
Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley commended the firefighters who put in their time and effort to compete. Firefighters, both volunteer and full time, help keep citizens of the county safe, and when they put in extra time to better their skills, the county’s residents benefit, he said.
“They are my hands and feet when it comes to emergency management,” Manley said. “Without them I could do very little.”
Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said he is proud of the men and women who compete. Several of the firefighters who competed in the event work for the Picayune Fire Department either full time or part time, or as volunteer firefighters for county fire departments, Seal said.
Manley estimates that the work done by the firefighters in the county reduce home fire insurance premiums by between 30 and 40 percent.
As the firefighters train for and compete in the event, they not only get better times in the competition, but they are in better shape to keep the county’s property and people safe, Brown said.