Firefighter Challenge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A team of City of Batesville firefighters that included (from left) Troy Vest, Brett Childs, John Phillips and Harvey Flowers pose with the pennant they earned at the Firefighter Combat Challenge in Brandon. They earned a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the World Finals. The Batesville team was coached by longtime firefighter Jackie Chapman (far right). Photo provided

Firefighters win right to battle in Vegas for Challenge finals

By Billy Davis

A four-man team of Batesville firefighters completed a rigorous physical fitness competition in under two minutes, earning themselves the chance to compete in a World Finals competition in Las Vegas.

Brett Childs, Troy Vest, John Phillips and Harvey Flowers competed May 22 and May 23 in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, held in Brandon. 

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Vest, who is completing his rookie status at BFD, is the youngest team member at 20. “But I turn 21 on June 13,” he said.

Phillips is the oldest team member at 39. Childs is 27 and Flowers is 21.

The team, representing the Batesville Fire Department, finished with a time of 1:54 in the four-station course. A time of two minutes or less allows the team to compete in the finals.

 “We need to knock off 30 seconds of our time for the World Finals,” said Childs, a six-year Batesville firefighter.

The team likely needs to raise at least $2,000 to compete in Las Vegas, he said.

 The Batesville team was sponsored by remodeling company Paul Davis Restoration. The company was once a corporate sponsor of the Challenge and its Memphis branch has sponsored Childs at past individual events, he said.

The Mississippi version of the competition, called Fire Fest 2009, was held in Brandon at Barnett Reservoir. Competitions are held across the United States each year, culminating with the finals.

The Combat Challenge begins with “The Hoist,” a run up a five-story tower while hauling a 42-pound hose. In the relay, a second firefighter pulls up a second hose on a rope and descends the tower.

Three other course stations, “The Sled,” “The Hose Drag,” and “The Victim Rescue,” require competitors to simulate a forced entry, douse a fire, and pull a victim to safety, respectively.

The competition is completed when a firefighter, running backwards, drags a 175-pound mannequin past the finish line.

Childs and Flowers also competed in an individual competition, completing the course with a time of 2:33 and 4:13 respectively.

Vest said the four-man team “trained hard” two weeks prior to the event but had only trained individually.

“We never put it together until we got down there,” he said.

The Batesville team is coached by longtime Batesville firefighter Jackie Chapman, a longtime competitor in the Challenge. 

Childs said he asked for volunteers, and Vest, Phillips and Flowers signed up, when he learned the Combat Challenge was returning to Mississippi.

“When everybody found out we made it to Las Vegas, there were a lot more volunteers,” he said.

Childs and Phillips are full-time firefighters at BFD while Flowers and Vest are volunteers for the department. Vest said he will apply for full-time status when he turns 21.