Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge takes over downtown Elkhart

ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - “It's very hard, and I mean these guys put everything on the line out here, just like they do with their jobs,” creative director Rob O’Connor said.

Firefighters are used to strapping on dozens of pounds of equipment in their jobs.

But doing it for fun?

Nearly 50 firefighters did just that Friday night.

“We're here to promote fitness in the fire industry,” O’Connor said. “It's fitness that saves lives, and these guys know that. They want to be the best of the best at their job.”

It's all part of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge. The national competition is visiting Elkhart for third time this weekend.

“It’s a significant accomplishment,” Mayor Tim Neese said. “It's a way to thank the police and firefighters.”

In full gear, firefighters race up a five-story tower, hoist and drag hoses, and rescue a 175-pound dummy.

“Not only are they competitive, but they're doing this to make themselves better at their job and be ready when duty calls to save lives,” O’Connor said.

For female firefighters, they run the exact same course. Nothing changes.

“It's a really impressive note,” O’Connor said. “These girls are awesome.”

It's a chance for the public to get an up-close look at the battles first responders face.

“It's intense, so it's neat for the public to see what it's actually like in a fire ground, to see how difficult some of these tasks are and what these guys go through on a daily basis,” O’Connor said.

“I think I really want them to appreciate what a police officer and firefighter goes through,” Neese said. “I think they understand it to some extent, but maybe they don’t appreciate it to the degree that we want them to.”

Regardless of who wins at the end of the day, “These guys are true heroes,” O’Connor said.

There will be tandem and relay runs on the course Saturday morning and early afternoon.

Those who qualify will compete in the national challenge in the fall.