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News > Air Force Academy earns gold at world firefighter challenge
Senior Airman Jessica Morehouse, drags a loaded fire hose toward the saloon doors during the Firefighter Combat Challenge competition Nov. 16. After crossing the saloon doors, she can hit the target with a stream of water to knock it down and complete the fourth of five events on the course. Morehouse is a founding member of the Fire Fembots, a combined Academy-Colorado Springs team of women firefighters who own both the world record time in their category and are three-time defending world champions. (U.S. Air Force Photo/John Van Winkle)
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Air Force Academy earns gold at world firefighter challenge

Posted 11/23/2011   Updated 11/23/2011 Email story   Print story


by John Van Winkle
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

11/23/2011 - MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Firefighters from the Air Force Academy took home the gold and firefighters from Whiteman AFB, Mo., won the silver medal Saturday at the World Firefighter Combat Challenge XX.

The firefighter combat challenge requires maximum effort in minimal time, as it simulates the activities of fighting a working fire and rescuing a victim on a timed course.

Air Force firefighters from several bases in the continental United States and Europe competed against their peers from Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States.

In the women's relay team, the Air Force Academy's Fire Fembots team earned its latest world title in the finals match against the Ontario Flame Tamers.

The Fire Fembots is a combined team from the Air Force Academy and Colorado Springs Fire Departments. Rule changes after the 2008 season allowed firefighters from the same region to form teams to compete. With that change, the Fire Fembots were created when Elaine Perkins, Andrea Carraway and Senior Airman Jessica Condon from the Air Force Academy teamed up with Stacy Billapando and Lisa Smith from the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

But an injury almost sidelined their latest championship run. Last week, Smith was hurt playing hockey, and unable to compete.

"We're all anchors to each other, so missing Lisa was a little bit of a mental setback, but we knew we could do it," said Carraway. Smith's part of the course was split between Condon and Perkins, but Smith put on a knee brace to be on the course with the team during finals, lending emotional support.

"When the girls came together for one last time, we all felt a little pressure," said Billapando. "But all the girls are getting faster in their own individual events, so it all clicked right when it needed to."

The fembots finished the course in 1:45.01 --- just a second behind their world record time - while the Ontario team finished at 1:47.41.

"It's amazing. So much fun and we work so hard together. The other teams are stepping it up, shooting for us and getting closer to our times, but it was still fun," said Carraway.
That fun includes a third consecutive world title for the Fire Fembots, in only their third year of competition.

But the Fembots were only one of several Air Force teams competing, and the surprise of the worlds competition was a previously-unknown team from Whiteman AFB, Mo., that established itself as a world contender.

In the finals of the mens relay team category, the heavy favorite was the perennial world contenders from Clayton County, Ga., who faced off against the Whiteman AFB team of Timothy Vanden Haak, Chris Frakes, Derrick Allen, Anthony Beaudry and Mark Belton.
The Georgia team managed to create a small lead in the course, and won by only a few seconds to take home the gold. For the Whiteman team, they earned silver medals in their first appearance in the world firefighter combat challenge.

The Air Force Academy also fielded several men's teams at the world competition. The Academy 40-plus finished third in the tandem category and fourth in the team category.

A number of Air Force firefighters competed this year on the world stage as well, including teams from F.E Warren AFB, Wyo.; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Whiteman AFB, Mo.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; as well as teams from Canadian Forces and a joint team from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with firefighters from Ramstein, Spangdahlem and Aviano air bases and one former USAFE firefighter now stationed at Shaw AFB.

12/1/2011 4:37:06 PM ET
USAFA 67 CS13. Congrats. Still making penetrations with WPSD at 66. 'We sleep safely in our beds because tough men and women stand ready in the night to visit wet stuff on the hot stuff that would do us harm.' To plagerize Orwell.
Warney PaBeau Crosby, Woodway TX
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