Inside Events: Ultimate Firefighter | Sports Destination Management

Inside Events: Ultimate Firefighter

An Interview with Jim King, Vice President of the California Police Athletic Federation Board
Jan 18, 2024 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

This time last year, SDM covered the US Police & Fire Championships, an Olympic-style competition for first responders and public safety personnel across the United States.

New for 2024, however, is the Ultimate Firefighter event, in which firefighting personnel can challenge one another in a multi-event format. Jim King, Vice President of the California Police Athletic Federation Board, shared his insights on this event.

Sports Destination Management: First things first. The US Police & Fire Championships are back this year, right?

Ultimate Firefighter ChallengeJim King: Yes, the 2024 USPFC will be held in San Diego, CA from June 8-15, 2024. Registration is open now. There are 39 sports and 76 total events.

Editor’s note: Registration is available at this link.

SDM: This year, you are adding the Ultimate Firefighter event, which is new. Is this a separate event entirely, or something that is held as part of the USPFC?

King: It is being held in conjunction with our original event. We saw that there had been an Ultimate Firefighter event at the World Police and Fire Games since 2005. It had done very well so we wanted to offer that as well.

SDM: How is it set up?

King: Ultimate Firefighter is comprised of four consecutive stages including a Hose Task, Weight and Strength, Obstacle Course and High Rise. The competition will allow fire personnel to showcase their skills through a series of physical and mental challenges.

SDM: Where will the new event be held?

King: The Ultimate Firefighter portion of the games will take place on Saturday, June 8 at the Heartland Fire Training Facility located at 1301 N. Marshall Ave, El Cajon, CA 92020.

SDM: Can you run us through the stages of the competition?

King: Yes; they are as follows:

STAGE 1: Hose Task

Competitors will run to two separate 150-foot lengths of 2 ½ inch hose, shouldering each and dragging them to full extension, dragging the couplings across a designated line. Then they will run to two separate unrolled hose lines and roll each line, carrying each tightly rolled hose to a designated finish line.

Ultimate Firefighter ChallengeSTAGE 2: Weight and Strength

Competitors will carry a 24’ ground ladder and correctly place it against a wall and raise/extend it. Then, they will carry a hotel high-rise pack of attack line while ascending the four-story tower and place it in a designated box at the top of the tower. From the top landing, they will raise a hose roll attached to a rope and place it in the designated box. Lastly, competitors will descend the stairs to the base of the tower, grab a master stream nozzle and axe, and run to the finish area where they will attach the nozzle to an appliance and wedge the axe into a block of wood.

STAGE 3: Obstacle Course

Competitors will complete an obstacle course where they will drive the Keiser FORCE machine, navigate a series of cones, and then complete a dummy-drag with a rescue mannequin.

STAGE 4: High Rise

Competitors will ascend the same four-story tower twice, first carrying a hotel high high-rise pack and second carrying a chain saw. Once the competitors descend the tower and cross the finish line, the timer will stop the clock.

The combined time of all four stages of the competition will tally to the final score. The event is open to active, retired and volunteer personnel from eligible agencies and athletes can compete in both individual and team style competitions.

SDM: That sounds like a tremendous challenge.

King: It is. Firefighters are very competitive but some people are better at certain things than others. When I was a firefighter, the weight and strength stuff was my jam but my cardio wasn’t as good as that of some other people. You take the aggregate score when determining the winner.

SDM: How many competitors are you looking to bring in?

King: This being the first time, we’re shooting for 100 firefighters. At the World Games, Ultimate Firefighter competitions consistently see 300 competitors from around the globe. In countries like Brazil, they love it; they are so competitive with this.

SDM: The Games (and of course the Ultimate Firefighter challenge too) present a unique opportunity.

Ultimate Firefighter ChallengeKing: Depending on where we hold the event, in an area where there are passersby, everyone wants to stop and watch the firefighters work. It offers awareness of first responders and law enforcement, and that’s always good. And no matter where we are in the world, people want to come and watch their family and friends compete. Last year, we had 2,800 people total; we’d love to see 3,000 or 3,500 but we’ll just have to see.

SDM: Has there already been interest? You just announced the dates and the events.

King: Yes! We literally just put this out on the web 10 days ago, so this is brand new. But before that we were fielding calls so there was already a buzz out there. They have heard about Ultimate Firefighter and they’re asking about the logistics – how far they will need to drag the hose and so on. Sounds like they’ll be setting up obstacles and starting their practices now. Getting those calls is really fun.

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