Picayune firefighters compete

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Competition causes contestants to push harder and the Fire Fighter’s Combat Challenge pushes firefighters to become faster and the Picayune Fire Department has sent this year’s team to the first of five scheduled competitions, already earning a place in the world competition.

Their first competition of the year was held in Brandon on June 16 and 17 and while they did not come home with first place trophies, they did qualify for the world tournament. Training officer Barry Lee also placed second in Mississippi’s over 40 division in the individual competition, Fire Chief Keith Brown said.

“The guy that beat me was from Fort Gordon, Ga.,” Lee said.

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This year there are two teams, relay and tandem. This year’s relay team consists of Joe Mack Russell, Anthony Lossett, Nicky Lee and Cruz Russell said Chief Brown. The new four-man relay team has opened up a second team for the department, a tandem team. The tandem team consists of Josh Abercrombie and Jason Hunt, Lee said.

Sizing down the relay team from five men shaved about five seconds off of their time from last year, Brown said.

In the individual competition, Barry Lee ranked 19, while Nicky Lee ranked 15 and Lossett ranked 13, all out of 27 participants, Brown said. While Barry Lee’s time did not qualify him for the world competition, he said he plans to shave 40 seconds off his time. If he can reach his goal he will match the current record for that division.

“I’m proud I got what I got but I certainly want to do better,” Lee said.

The relay team placed about sixth in the competition. The tandem team finished in place 11, but his month’s competition was their first.

Whether it is a team or individual run, all participants essentially run the same course, just with varying numbers of team members. The competition still includes an over-the-shoulder 42-pound hose haul up the tower, a 42-pound hose haul via a rope to the top of the tower, a sled drive utilizing a large hammer, a 75-foot fire hose advance and target shoot and lastly the 175-pound mannequin haul for 100 feet.

Even though Picayune’s teams did not come in first in the competition, they were able to qualify for the world competition, which will be held in Las Vegas from Nov. 4 through Nov. 8.

Before they head for Nevada they plan to compete in Tyler, Texas; Gainesville, Fla.; and Atlanta, Ga. The competition in Tyler is scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, while the other two are scheduled for Sept. 22 and 23 and Oct. 12 and 13.

Lee said he is proud of Picayune’s team and while they were not able to meet this year’s goals, they are ahead of where they were last year.

This year’s competition will be a little lighter on the Picayune’s participants with the addition of competition fire gear, which weighs four to five pounds less than standard gear, Lee said. By using the gear as a form of advertising for the gear makers, the department was able to purchase the gear at half price. The discount involved adding the maker’s name to the backs of the gear.

Picayune’s team is still looking for sponsors to help them finance equipment and travel expenses in order to participate in the competition. Donations can be directed to the Picayune Fire Fighter’s Association. Would-be donors can get more information by calling the fire department.