Locals place in firefighter challenge
Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 13, 2015
Local firefighters placed second in the over 40 category at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge last week.
The firefighters, who call themselves the Team on Fire For God, participated in the regional competition at Tyler, Texas on June 5 and 6, placing second in the relay competition.
The team consists of several firefighters from Pearl River County, including Donny Leonard Sr., Tony Scharenbroch, Steve Seal, Chris Banks, Ronnie Reynolds and Danny Manley.
The firefighting team makes it a priority to spread the word of God when they compete in challenges. At last week’s competition, the team handed out nearly 40 Bibles to contestants and spectators.
“It’s really our mission. It’s doing what we love while spreading the word of God at the same time,” Leonard said.
The firefighter combat challenge requires firefighters to perform various real-life firefighting tasks, including climbing a tower, hoisting up a 42 pound hose and rescuing a life-sized 175 pound dummy, all while being timed. The categories include team relay, individual and tandem. The last category consists of two competitors working together, Leonard said.
Leonard and Scharenbroch also participated and placed second in the tandem competition.
Leonard currently serves as the fire chief at the McNeill Volunteer Fire Department and started the local team in 2012 after he and his son attended a challenge the previous year.
“A lot of firefighters are out of shape and it’s important to be fit, especially when doing strenuous work in extreme environments,” Leonard said.
The challenge aims to promote firefighter fitness. It attracts hundreds of fire departments annually from the United States, Canada and including other countries. Competitions are held at 25 locations nationwide, according to the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge website.
Leonard encourages firefighters across Pearl River County to participate in the upcoming challenges. Team on Fire for God will travel to Arlington, Texas in August to compete in another regional competition. In October, they will participate at the world championships in Montgomery, Ala., where firefighters from around the world will go head-to-head in the competition.
The team also plans to compete in a fire challenge in July, which might take place in Jackson, Miss., Leonard said.
The team currently holds the title of Mississippi State Champions for the over 40 category in the challenge.
In the near future, the team hopes to bring the challenge to Picayune if they’re able to secure sponsorships, Leonard said.
“Firefighters and their families from all over the South could come to Picayune to compete and it would bring a lot of revenue to the city as well. It would probably take place during one of the annual Street Festivals,” Leonard said.
For more information about the challenge, visit http://www.firefighterchallenge.com.