Thursday, November 18, 2004

AFB firefighters triumph in world competition

By Ian Thompson

TRAVIS AFB - A team of Travis Air Force Base firefighters became the first Department of Defense team to win the World Firefighter Combat Challenge held in Las Vegas last week.

The eight-person team faced 21 crews from both military and civilian fire departments from the U.S., Canada and Europe in five days of competition.

Travis was only the second American team to win since 1997, according to a press release from the Air Mobility Command News Service.

The teams compete against each other in timed events, which include carrying fire hose up the stairs of a six-story tower, hoisting a 42-pound roll of hose up the tower, hammering a 160-pound steel beam 5 feet, weaving through a 140-foot obstacle course of cones, carrying a 175-pound dummy 100 feet and dragging a fire hose 75 feet before turning it on to hit a target with a stream of water.

Travis' team of active-duty military, Air Force Reserve and civilian firefighters was one of 80 teams which competed in several earlier competitions to try to be one of the 21 that went to the finals.

"I'm proud of the team," Travis team captain Tech. Sgt. Mike Melton said in the press release. "They worked hard. It's been a six-year journey to get where we are today."

Travis team members got ready for the competitions by practicing up to six hours a day, several days a week whenever they weren't on duty.

In addition to Melton, the team was Staff Sgt. Harry Myers, David Chiodo, Shenah Flores, Staff Sgt. Frank Abreu, Staff Sgt. Jelani Brooks, Senior Airman Brendan O'Neil and Adam Groom.

The Travis firefighters will even get some air time when the World Combat Challenge finals air on ESPN at 4 p.m. Dec. 19, Dec. 22 and Jan. 22, 2005.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

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