New Albany Fire/Rescue qualifies for world challenge competition

A portion of the following story was omitted from the Friday, Sept. 10, 2010 edition of the New Albany Gazette.  It is being reprinted in its entirety.

The New Albany Gazette regrets this error.  To report errors, call 534-6321, ext. 421.


Firefighters with New Albany Fire Department recently competed in a national firefighter competition and scored so well they qualified for the world challenge competition.

'Team New Albany Combat Challenge Team' is the name of their team, which featured NAFD firefighters Ben Brown, Allen Elder, Chad Jarvis, Chris Whiteside, and Team Captain Shane Cowsert. The competition was held the weekend of August 14 in Lexington, Ky. 

The goal of the challenge was to complete the physically rigorous course in under two minutes, which was a goal that the team accomplished.

The course consisted of many aspects, which included, but were not limited to racing for the clock and other timed events, carrying a 45-pound firefighter hose donut up a five-story building, use a sledgehammer to break inside a building or room, run through a serpentine of cones, run with 75-feet of hose, carry a 165-pound dummy, and more, according to Mark Whiteside, assistant chief for NAFD.

Cowsert said,  “I knew they would do it and was confident with all the hard work they had been doing would payoff.”

To get ready for this challenge, the firefighters had been exercising frequently and vigorously training by running for miles with their turnout gear on, running up several flights of stairs, and more.

This team works hard, and they do it on their own time practicing and working out at different locations, running multi story buildings in Tupelo, running from Station 1 to Station 2 in full equipment, and working out at each Station. 

The goal in this competition is to get a spot in the World Challenge competition, which happens in Myrtle Beach in mid-November.

Whiteside said, “Team New Albany’s first run turned in a time of 1:48 which placed them in the qualifying round for the World Challenge.  The second run the team turned in a time of 1:44 seeing their chances for advancing to the next round in Lexington stop when the team they were competing against turned in a time of 1:42.

However the time of 1:44 was better than their first run and qualified them for the World Challenge in Myrtle Beach.  In a competition where the difference of being #1 and #32 is only a matter of seconds a time of 1:44 is a good time.”

Cowsert said, “The goal now is to practice and work on getting their time down under one minute and 20 seconds.”

Whiteside said, “The world challenge is everything that a firefighter have to do in a normal, everyday situation at work, especially in a bigger city. It keeps them in shape and also gives them a lot of bragging rights.”

Team New Albany competed against cities the size of Montgomery, Cincinnati, Lexington, Memphis, and other large Metropolitan places, so for a team to compete that is from a city as small as New Albany is a feat that the team was very proud of.

Whiteside said that he was proud of the team and support them in their quest to be ambassadors for New Albany.

“To accomplish what they are doing puts New Albany on the map not only state, and national levels, but worldwide.  When they go to compete in November, they will be known as the guys from the small North Mississippi City of New Albany,” said Whiteside. 

Team New Albany's sponsors are Pizza Pit, UCDA, the City of New Albany, Fire Chief Jeff Hale, and the New Albany Fire Department.