GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The competition could be called “a day in the life of a firefighter.”

“A firefighter gets a call, and they’re in a five-story building.  And they have to, now, carry fire hose. So they’re going to carry 42 pounds up a five-story tower. They’re in full bunker gear,” said Todd Shelton, Chief program director for First Responder Institute, which puts on the Firefighter Challenge.

The challenge has been around for three decades. Next week, it makes its first-ever stop here in Grand Rapids.

The obstacle course will be set up on Calder Plaza and features everything from climbing stairs to rescuing make-believe victims to busting through a door to put the fire out.

The goal is to do all that in under six minutes.

“We’re represented by 14 counties. We have firefighters from all over the United States that come and compete,” said Shelton.

The free event, hosted by Grand Rapids Fire Prevention Foundation, will be held at Calder Plaza on Ottawa Avenue from July 28 to July 31. It hopes to bring awareness to the need for first responders and recruit a new generation.

“This started over a year ago, just thinking about how we can promote wellness and increase our recruiting efforts in the City Grand Rapids,” said Grand Rapids Fire Department Deputy Chief Brad Brown.

People who are interested in being a firefighter will have the chance to compete in the challenge and learn more about the requirements of the job.

Along with climbing a five-story tower set up on the plaza, other tasks include dragging and hoisting fire hoses, simulating forcible entry, racing around obstacles and dragging a 170-pound mannequin representing a fire victim.

While the challenge gives firefighters a chance to bond, it’s also designed to give the public a chance to see what a firefighter does day in and day out.

“You see the red trucks going down the road. You may see some people operating. What they’re going to witness people do in two to three minutes — we may do that multiple times a day here in the City of Grand Rapids,” said Brown.

“Hopefully this will bring a little more awareness to the firefighting profession in Grand Rapids, West Michigan and even the country,” he added.

There will also be a Kid’s Challenge Course and a Charity Relay Challenge, where businesses and non-profits run as a team on an adjusted course to support a charity of their choice. Food trucks and Beer City Beer Tent will be at the event to provide food and drink.

Challenge hours are as follows:

  • Friday, July 29: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 30: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 31: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.