NORTH WEBSTER — Firefighters from several area departments will exhibit their strength, agility and stamina during the Firefighters Challenge event Thursday, June 23, at the Mermaid Festival in North Webster.
The individual competitors will commence vying for cash prizes at 7:30 p.m. “rain or shine,” according to Kevin Gunkle, a firefighter with the North Webster Fire Department.
“In case of severe weather, the competition will take place Friday (June 24) at the same time,” he said.
The event will be held at the north end of the festival fairgrounds directly behind the fire station, 202 N. Main St.,
Prospective participants may preregister at $25 per person at the fire station, by calling Gunkel at (574) 518-2275, by mailing a registration form and payment to the North Webster Fire Department, P.O. Box 292, North Webster, IN 46555 or may register the day of the competition for $30 per applicant.
All participants must be in full turnout gear with SCBA and are responsible for bringing their own gear and SCBA unit.
Each competitor will run a grueling gauntlet, which entails climbing a 20-foot ladder, pulling up a high-rise kit consisting of a rope attached to a 50-foot section of fire hose, dragging a charged hose and discharging it at a target, demonstrating forcible entry, negotiating a confined space and obstacle course and dragging a 175-pound life-size dummy out of harm’s way.
After the individual challenge, departments may pair two of their firefighters for a tag team run over the same course, with each firefighter completing half the course.
Individual cash prizes range from $500, $350 and $200 for first, second and third place respectively, to $30 for a 10th-place finish. The winning tag team will receive a traveling trophy and $350.
The events will be timed and scored by the Lions Club. “Their decisions are final,” said Gunkel.
Firefighters must compete in the individual challenge to be eligible for the tag team event.
During intermission between the individual and team competitions, kids will be invited, for a $5 entry fee, to participate in a mini course for trophies and medals. The kids challenge is open to any child from kindergarten through fifth grade, and all competitors must wear shoes.
The competition, now in its seventh year, typically draws “10 to 15 teams” from departments as far away as Middlebury, Kimmell and Roann in addition to regular competitors from the Warsaw, Syracuse, Leesburg and Cromwell departments.
Last year’s individual winner was Brent Fifer from the Warsaw Fire Department. Fifer completed the course in one minute, 16 seconds. The victorious tag team was Fifer and Quinten Stamford.
Nine-year-old Lucas Patterson of Syracuse won the 2015 kids challenge.
The event is sponsored by the North Webster Lions Club, with Hoene Tile, Airworks, C & J Backhoe and Fastenal.
“We’d like to give a special thanks to those who donated money for the cash prizes,” Gunkel said, listing Impressive Design Homes, BuyRite, The Car Company, Dave’s Electric, Lake Lube, Roger Auto Center, Barbee Marina, Likens and Sons Construction, Claytons Garden Center, American Legion Post 253, Jimmy’s Restaurant and Sheila’s Sweet Treats.
For more information, call Gunkle at (574) 518-2275.