From its inception, the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge has used the NFPA standards (1971) as the criteria for enforcing uniformity in what constitutes legal bunker gear. We’ve had “players” over the years who have sought an advantage by bending, if not breaking the rules. Last year, we got serious about enforcing the footwear rule. There was some unexpected push back. Understand that in our infancy, leather boots were a rare sight. Now, there’s not a serious competitor who’s playing in anything other than leather. The ergonomic advantages are significant. Knowing what we do about weight, i.e., a pound on the foot is worth 5 on the back, everyone wants to go light. If the boot does not have a label stating that it is compliant, i.e., vapor barrier, toe cap and protective shank, then why push it?
Globe has done an incredible job on creating a great product and that’s evidenced in the numbers of Challenge competitors who have switched. It’s difficult to ensure that every single competitor is playing by the rules. It takes a dedicated official to screen for adherence. Firefighters, being honorable people rarely cheat. But, unfortunately, a few do, making us now screen everyone to the best of our ability. At this stage of the game, “I didn’t know” doesn’t cut it. If ever there was a population that does know NFPA 1971, its the competitors of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge.
It’s my best hope for season 20 that everyone steps up and plays fair. Look for the label. This coming March, John Granby and I will do the front-end screening on the 1500 firefighters who will be participating in the Scott Seattle Stair Climb. Same rules apply. We’re hoping that playing fair is a universal attribute of firefighters everywhere.