GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Team Memphis firefighter Lindsay Lund is pulling her weight for the team — and then some.
“I’m good with running, the hose carrying and the dummy. The dummy weighs about 60 pounds more than I do. So that’s going to be a challenge,” Lund said, a member of the Memphis Fire Department Firefighter Combat Challenge team traveling to Grand Rapids to compete this weekend on Calder Plaza.
It’s the first time the challenge has been held in Grand Rapids.
Most people see a fire engine heading to an emergency and don’t think much of it, but firefighters are a tight-knit bunch. The competition gives the public a chance to see that bond firsthand.
“We all work very well together. It’s just a big family. Family gathering,” Lund said.
Friday marked the start of the challenge with a charity relay scheduled for the evening. Proceeds will go toward smoke detectors and other services provided by the Grand Rapids Fire Department Fire Prevention Foundation.
Individual competition is set for Saturday, with team completions scheduled for Sunday.
The event also features family and community activities, food trucks, vendors and a beer tent.
The timed course includes firefighters climbing five flights of stairs with a heavy bundle of hoses slung over their shoulders. They have to pull more hose when they reach the top. Then it’s back down to the street where they simulate pounding through a doorway, then hauling a waterlogged hose line through a door, pointing the nozzle and hitting a target. Then, they must pull a 175-pound simulated victim over 100 feet to the finish line.
In other words, it’s just another day at the office.
“These five events are actually events that we do on fire scenes,” GRFD Battalion Chief Kathleen Thompson said.
Retired Lansing firefighter Bill Christiansen is competing in the over 60 category.
“When you get up to the top of the course, you’re like why am I here? Then you get done and at the end, you’re going that’s why. Because you finished the course, and you did a good job,” Christiansen said. “It’s competitive. Who’s going to win? But then when it’s all done, no matter if you’re the world champion or the guys that just starting, we help each other and teach you what you need to do to go faster.”
And with the competition open to the public, firefighters hope that demonstrating a day at the office may spark an interest in someone to look into becoming a firefighter.
“So many firefighters are second and third generation because people aren’t exposed to it,” Thompson said. “Coming here this weekend would be a perfect opportunity to get up close exposure. Just check it out.”
Ottawa between Michigan and Lyon will be shut down to traffic for the event this weekend.