MOSUL, Iraq — Firefighters at Forward Operating Base Sykes hosted a Firefighter's Challenge competition, Oct. 10, to give Soldiers a small taste of what their job requires of them.
The competition offered Soldiers a chance to step into a firehouse and complete seven events that test basic firefighting skills.
The Soldiers that participated in the competition had to complete each of the seven stations while being timed. The events covered things such as carrying a fire hose 100 feet, moving a tire 6 inches by hitting it with a sledge hammer and pulling weights on a pulley system.
Bill Ruder, a firefighter at FOB Sykes, said that the events were designed to simulate real world tasks that firefighters may have to perform.
"The [weight pull] station was to simulate hoisting tools to the roof of a building or house that is on fire," said Ruder. "The [tire] station was where you had to hit a large vehicle tire with a sledgehammer to simulate ventilation. Ventilation is where we may have to use hand tools like an axe to open the roof of a house to let the heat and smoke out of it."
For the Soldiers that competed, the competition offered an in depth perspective on what is required of firefighters when they are called to do their job as well as providing a little friendly competition.
"I wanted to see if I could do it," said Sgt. Michael Arnold, a senior transmission systems operator with 6th "Saber" Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd "Greywolf" Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "It was a competition between [our shop]."
The competitors wore only some of the required firefighter equipment but it still proved challenging to complete the events. After the competition, Arnold and his fellow Soldiers agreed that the firefighters have a tough job and offered their admiration and respect for what firefighters do.
The third place winner of the competition, Spc. Vanessa Casiano, hadn't even planned on participating when she arrived to cheer on the Soldiers in her shop who were competing. For her, the competition was a confidence booster.
"I didn't even know I was going to do [the competition]. I showed up to support my guys and ended up competing," said Casiano, a local area network manager for the Saber squadron. "My adrenaline was up and I was ready to go. I had a big smile on my face when I found out I got third place."
The firefighters and Soldiers both enjoyed the competition. It was an experience that taught the Soldiers that there is more to firefighting than suiting up and sounding the fire engine sirens.
"What we did was nothing compared to what the firefighters do," said Casiano. "I have a lot of respect for them."
The firefighters were also glad to have the opportunity to host the event. It was an opportunity for them to give a little something to the Soldiers they serve with in Iraq. Ruder thanked the Soldiers for coming out and making the event a success.