Firefighters, Family members put skills to the test
Brothers Adam and Matthew Beat completed the firefighter's skill challenge with help from Sparky the Fire Dog at Saturday's event.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 29, 2011) -- Fort Rucker emergency responders showcased their skills at the Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Safety Fire and Emergency Services Division's quarterly skills challenge Sept. 24 at the post firefighter training grounds.

The event was more than just a competition, according to Sgt. 1st Class Eric D. Mattson, military fire chief, Fire Protection Division, 6th Military Police Detachment.

"What can we do to honor each other and remember what is important? We come together as a Family to commemorate our vows to protect those who protect America by competing, laughing and sharing good times," said Mattson.

Four teams and two individuals competed on a course designed to simulate a fire rescue, but there were also a few surprise competitors who put their skills to the test.

Firefighters' Family members and children of the Fort Rucker Hearts Apart and Survivor Outreach Services Program joined emergency workers and ran the course.

The Hearts Apart Families were invited by the Fire Protection Division, 6th Military Police Detachment so that they could enjoy an afternoon with the community. Both the Hearts Apart spouses and spouses of firefighters were honored with roses for their support as spouses and Family members.

"You will always have a friend in the Fort Rucker fire department," said Mattson.

Several local children were also able to participate in the challenge. Brett Barrett, Justin Schmidt, and brothers Todd, Andrew, Adam and Matthew Beat completed the course alongside Master Sgt. Pedro San Miguel and Spc. Matthew Rayfield.

"It's awesome to keep us occupied and to let the kids get involved," said Ruth Gonzales, Relocation Readiness Program manager, who helped bring the Hearts Apart spouses to the event.

While it might look easy to spectators, the skills challenge really puts people to the test, said Pvt. Gage Brown, 6th Military Police Detachment.

"I've done skill challenges before. There's nothing harder. It's definitely workout, probably the hardest two minutes of your life. When you're watching, it doesn't seem as difficult," said Brown, adding that having Family and friends attend helps motivate the firefighters through the event. "It's a great experience. I hope it shows them to respect firefighters and what they do."

Family members were also encouraged by watching the challenge together.

"It's interesting to see where my spouse goes every day. I think it's great to see all the Families here -- to see that you're not the only one going through the 15-hour days," said Emily Lemmon, who watched her husband compete in the event

The winners of the event were Pfc. Lawrence Coe in the individual challenge, and group winners were Staff Sgt. Jerry Adamson, Sgt. Mark Bradshaw and Sgt. Jonathan Dunham, all of the Fire Protection Division, 6th Military Police Detachment.

"As a firefighter, you don't run into a burning building or an aircraft crash without knowing that it could be the last fire you put out. That is a hero," said Mattson.

Page last updated Thu September 29th, 2011 at 14:06