Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's With San Diego?

Two years ago, we started an initiative to put the Challenge on the weather deck of the USS Midway. In furtherance of that objective, Chuck DeGrandpre and Bill Alexander made two trips to San Diego and conducted several meetings with the Burn Foundation as well as the organization that manages the Midway. Things were on track and we had indicated that San Diego would be our destination. The terms of the contract had been negotiated and was awaiting ratification.
Then, the engineering department asked if we could punt this to next year. Keep in mind that we had started with an objective of 2011 and now were being asked to move the event to 2013. We felt that we had exhausted all remedies in attempting to bring some structure to what would have been a very complicated maneuver. So, in deference to our West Coast teams, we also felt strongly that we needed to be in California as originally planned. So several months ago, we started our search for an alternative venue.
Our short list of venues numbered in single digits. Each of these locations were presented with the specifications necessary to run a quality event. Hundreds of hours have been spent, not just by us, but Walt White, Cliff Walker and Bob Pfohl. At first, the US Navy looked to be the solution and we were well on our way to securing a venue when a conflict with the change of command ceremony knocked that one out and set us back another several weeks. 
We apologize for this frustrating and unfortunate set of circumstances. Nearly every hour of Rob Alesbury's time has been on the phone, trying to move this project along. As of this writing, we believe that we are close to making an announcement of a San Diego venue. The instant that we can confirm the location, we will announce it here on the Hot News. Meanwhile, special thanks to Bob Pfohl, Cliff Walker and Walt White for their tireless volunteer efforts. Without guys like them, we couldn’t do this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best Combat Challenge Tee Shirt Yet

Since it's inception nearly 22 years ago, there's probably 100,000 Challenge tees out there. I wanted to share this special one- because it's one of the most creative that I've seen. It was the competitor tee from Berlin week before last. Here's the backside:

Competitor Tee: Back
 Now, here's the good part:
Unknown German Proverb
The translation goes like this: 

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up and she knows she needs to be quicker than the fastest lion or she will die. 

Every morning, a lion wakes up and knows that he will have to overtake the gazelle or he will starve. 
When the sun comes up, it does not matter if whether you're the lion or the gazelle, you better be training!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Imagine if...

The Team Landon in Berlin
Over twenty years ago, I was told by a physician friend of the daily fitness test taken by every Parisian firefighter. I couldn't independently verify this- at least until this week. But it's true. 

I met a contingent of 10 Parisian firefighters at the Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge. They invited me to visit their station, which I did last Monday (9,10.12). 

It took a couple of Metro trains and some walking, but I arrived at the Landon station, just as Google Earth had directed. The station captain introduced himself and provided a tour of the fire house. The building was huge, with a full galley, training room, spacious engine bay and a well-equiped workout room. We discussed work schedules and shifts and the usual casual conversation that fills the voids when visiting firehouses.

At the Paris, France Chateau Landon Fire Station

But what I really wanted to know was about the mandatory daily fitness test that my physician friend had told me about over two decades ago. Yep; absolutely. And a demonstration was ordered. Affixed to the wall at about 8 feet is a 1.5" thick shelf about 24" deep, held in place with a set of braces.  The firefighter, wearing full bunkers, (unlike the photo) grasps the edge of the shelf and pulls himself up and onto the shelf. That's it. Just that simple. 

Start Position for the Ledge Muscle Up

Finish Position: Ledge Muscle Up
If you can't do that, you don't ride the apparatus that day, or any day until you can pass the daily fitness test. I don't know what percentage of US firefighters that would be capable of passing this simple test. I'm pretty sure everyone who participates in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge can. But think about it. What could be a simpler field test of muscular fitness than the ability to move your own body weight (and bunker gear- absent SCBA) to a ledge?

Imagine the huge economic savings in orthopedic injuries and reduced metabolic diseases like diabetes if we could boast this level of fitness for an elite class of firefighters. Then certainly, "Everyone would be going home."

If you'd like to see a YouTube video version, click here:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Berlin Calling...

The 6th Annual Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge was held this past week on Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th at the historic site of the Kaiser Welhelm Memorial Church. Several months earlier, in a matter of four minutes the on line registration had filled with over 300 participating firefighters from around Europe. This presented a logistical challenge and stretches the boundaries for exactly how many participants can realistically expect to earn a birth at the event. 

Mike Weikamm, the organizer of the event, with the support of Team Berlin did an admirable job of managing the more than 17 hours of competition. In one sense, this is a nice problem. We realize that in the out years, we're going to hold more regional events and eliminations in our quest to crown a European champion. If you would have had the opportunity to have attended this momentous event, you would have felt very much at home. Firefighters around the globe are cut from the same bolt of cloth. 

However, a couple of behaviors are rarely witnessed at US events: lighting up a cigarette immediately after a run, or handing a buddy a beer for fluid replacement. Otherwise, cheering on each other and celebrating PRs with high-fives was very much in evidence. 

I'm amazed at how fast things have progressed since the fairly humble start at Potsdamer Platz a very short six years ago. You can tell that the guys have been studying the enormous number of YouTube videos. Technique is becoming very important as is specificity of training. Competitors have familiarized themselves the the World Record run of Bob Russell (1:19) as well as the nuances of Brandon Cunningham. 

A good dozen or so of the Competitors went sub 2:00. The question typically asked is how valid are these times? Pretty close. The hose drag with a significantly smaller diameter  and weight is easier. The tower, constructed of scaffolding will always be harder. It's very stable, but the railings act as brakes. The timing system precisely follows the rules. The Keiser Force Machine, Rescue Randy, Saloon Doors and Target are spot on. 

The playing surface was perhaps a bit more slippery than asphalt when wet, but all in all, the Berliner Feuerwehr has done an absolutely excellent job of replication down to the red and blue carpets. The photos here, as well as on Facebook do an excellent job of capturing the ambiance. 

I'll have a few more posts on the subject of our European events over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.