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SKFR struts its stuff in Seattle

With crowds gathered to gawk and cheer them on as if they were rock stars, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue joined dozens of other firefighters gathered in Seattle Saturday to show off their skills.

Held in Pioneer Square for the first time since the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, the True North Firefighter Challenge attracted teams from Idaho, California and Washington cities as far away as Vancouver who wanted to try their best at what organizers said is dubbed “the toughest two minutes in sports.”

To complete the course, firefighters must perform several tasks in rapid succession, including running up a five-story tower carrying a hose and a 43-pound air pack, “chopping” their way into a house and dragging a hose before ultimately pulling a 175-pound “victim” — otherwise known as a “Rescue Randy” — to safety.

Five members of SKFR competed in the event last weekend, preparing for the competition for weeks by building pieces of the course themselves for practice.

“We have a tower here already at headquarters, along with a Rescue Randy,” said firefighter Dylan Petrovic, explaining that he and his teammates — Matt Million, Leif Anderson, Dave Schmidt and Dean Hoskins — also created a sled that is used to simulate a forced entry into a building by following instructions posted on the event’s Web site.

To physically train for the event, Petrovic said the firefighters fit in course practice whenever they could, explaining that SKFR Chief Wayne Senter supported their endeavors.

However, that didn’t mean they all automatically got a day off. “Most of us had to trade shifts to be able to go Saturday,” he admitted.

Two days before the competition, Petrovic said that all the training had stopped and the mission was instead to “rest up” for the course, which he said “you have to go at hard and fast,” especially to beat 1 minute and 50 seconds.

“Everyone who gets that time or better is invited to compete in the nationals,” he said.

On Saturday, the SKFR team came awfully close to that mark, completing the course in a relay race against the Seattle Fire Department’s Station 20 with a time of 1 minute, 56.29 seconds.

However, the team incurred a seven-second violation for improper axe-holding, which bumped their time over two minutes, though it still remained low enough to beat the Seattleites.

In the end, the SKFR team was ranked 13th, just missing a place in the top ten that would have earned them an invite to nationals, as well.

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