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Grit, discipline, and community support in Tecumseh Combat Challenge

June 1, 2023 
By FFIC Staff

June 1, 2023, Tecumseh, Ont. – The Tecumseh Fire and Rescue Services Combat Challenge team is set to host an exciting event for the community this weekend. The four-member team is organizing the Tecumseh F7 Festival, a family-friendly event where local firefighters and firefighter students will go head-to-head in their own Firefighter Combat Challenge.

The Firefighter Combat Challenge is a course comprised of multiple fire fighting tasks and is a challenge taken on by firefighters around the world every year. The four members of the Tecumseh team, Dan Redmond, John Moluchi, Patrick Lomascolo, and Mike Long, have been training for months — and some, for years — and are in the midst of a series of local and international events for the 2023 season.

The Tecumseh Fire and Rescue Services Combat Challenge team has been around for over a decade.

“I had been interested in the sport for years,” said Redmond, one of its founding members, in a press release. “It’s always been a challenge in itself to find enough people to commit to the rigorous training and time commitments required.”

In 2009, Redmond began competing with a few other firefighters, but the team struggled to stay together due to members joining and leaving the department. COVID-19 did not help either, but it did provide the impetus to refocus on the combat challenge, revitalize the team with new recruits, and fully commit to the upcoming season.

The team’s success can partially be attributed to the immense support from their community — and the construction of a training tower.

“For our team to be successful in the series of challenges of the 2023 season, it was crucial for our team members to have the best training facilities,” Redmond said. “This included a tower just like the one we climb in official competitions challenges.”

Thanks to the support of the community, this $250,000 project became a reality and was funded at 95 per cent by donations from generous sponsors and family members. Some additional donations and sponsorships with local organizations also allowed the Tecumseh team to procure over $6,000 worth of equipment needed for training such as boots and helmets.

“We are extremely grateful to our sponsors like Classic Fire + Life Safety for helping us cover these various expenses associated with the challenges, and for allowing us to travel across North America to compete at the level we do and, ultimately, do something we’re passionate about,” Redmond explains.

The Tecumseh Fire and Rescue Services is a volunteer department made up of 42 firefighters who all have ‘regular’ full-time jobs and families to support. All firefighters carry a pager and are on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. When that pager goes off, wherever they are, they must respond to the call and hop on the fire truck. After every call, minor or major, they must get back to their regular routine and jobs.

“This work requires an enormous amount of discipline,” Redmond points out. “Firefighters need to balance this unpredictable work schedule while working multiple jobs and maintaining family responsibilities, like coaching my daughter’s soccer team.”

How, then, could they possibly have the time and motivation to train for the Firefighter Combat Challenge, one of the most demanding sports challenges?

Training for these challenges must be taken as seriously as doctor’s appointments: when you start skipping them, your performance in the course will reveal it quickly.

“We also enjoy it very much,” Lomascolo said. “Even after our nine-to-five jobs, after we have answered a fire call, we will say, ‘See you at the tower!’ We have a very child-like enjoyment of our training sessions together.”

And this is something that brought the four members of the Tecumseh team together: They were all equally disciplined, focused and had a common interest in the challenge. Redmond had known Lomascolo for years and recruited him when he joined the Tecumseh Fire Department in 2017. Long, on the other hand, was an all-new recruit who joined their station and, as soon as Redmond noticed his physical ability, immediately invited him to join the team.

While in different age categories — Redmond and Moluchi compete in the 50 to 59 age group, and Lomascolo and Long in the 18 to 39 group — they all push each other and bring the best out of each other.

“We’re at a place where we have an incredibly solid team of disciplined and passionate people, and we’re more than ready for this 2023 season of the challenge,” Redmond said.

The Firefighter Combat Challenge is deemed by many to be the most demanding two minutes in sports. It is a timed competition consisting of five physical events that test the abilities of firefighters. The events include carrying a 42-pound hose up six flights of stairs, hoisting a 42-pound hose roll up a five-story tower, breaking down a door by hitting a 160-pound beam with a nine-pound mallet, advancing a charged hose 140 feet and spraying a target, and finally, dragging a 175-pound mannequin backwards for 100 feet. Competitors must complete all events within six minutes while wearing full firefighting gear, and any penalties or disqualifications add to their final time. The goal? To run the course in the quickest time possible.

The team competed in its first challenge of the season in Indianapolis at the end of April, and was very successful.

“We have kicked off our season in an extraordinary way, and we hope that this will continue with our event on June 3,” Redmond said. “That day will be dedicated to our community, families, and kids, to discover the Firefighter Combat Challenge in a friendly and welcoming environment.”

The Tecumseh F7 Festival takes place on Saturday at Tecumseh Fire Station #2 located at 5520 Walker Road and is open to all ages.

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