Firefighters racing to save the day

The Firefighter Combat Challenge is a nationwide tour that pits teams of firefighters from across the country against one other to see who's the strongest, fastest, and fittest among them.

On Saturday at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., some of the best teams from the area and as far as California took part in the second of two days of competition. CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman was on hand as part of his Road Trip 2009 project.

The contest has several stages. It begins with a race up a tall tower of stairs while carrying a heavy section of folded-up hose. At the top of the tower, the contestants must hoist up a donut roll of hose on a rope and then race down to the bottom. After that, they simulate breaking into a building by using a mallet to move a weight, run through an obstacle course to pick up a hose, run back pulling it, then break through a barrier, turn on the hose, aim the stream of water at a target and finally lift a dummy and carry it all the way across the course to the finish line.

Each competition--the contest was off next to Seattle--crowns regional winners and the best will meet at the national, and then, world championships.

Here, a competitor lugs the dummy toward the finish line.

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On your mark

Two contestants in the Firefighter Combat Challenge prepare for the signal to begin the race.

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The folded hose and the donut roll

These are the folded-hose pack and the donut roll of hose that the contestants must bring to the top of the tower. They must carry the hose pack with them as they run up the steps, and then they must hoist up the donut roll with a rope.

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Running up stairs

A contestant lugs the hose up the stairs of the tower, as seen from the side.

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Racing up the stairs

Two firefighters run neck and neck up the stairs.

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Pulling up the donut roll

Two contestants in the Firefighter Combat Challenge pull up the donut rolls of hose with a rope.

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Close-up on donut roll hoisting

A close-up of two firefighters hoisting the donut rolls of hose to the top of the tower.

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Getting ready

A contestant puts on his gear as he prepares to race in the Firefighter Combat Challenge on Saturday at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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Air Force firefighter

With the Firefighter Combat Challenge taking place on Friday and Saturday at the Air Force Academy, there were a number of teams from the academy itself participating in the competition.

Here, one Air Force firefighter prepares to race.

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The tanks

Oxygen tanks are lined up for firefighters to grab as part of the regulation gear they must wear in the competition.

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Racing down the tower

Two firefighters race down the stairs of the tower after lugging up packs of hose and then hoisting up donut rolls of hose to the top of the tower.

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Hammering the sled

A contestant in the Firefighter Combat Challenge hammers away with his mallet at a weight on a track as part of a simulation of breaking into a burning building.

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Rounding the corner

A firefighter rounds the corner of the obstacle course on route to grabbing the hose he must pull back toward the start of the course.

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Running with hose

Having grabbed the hose--which is full of water under pressure, the firefighter must now pull it with him toward a barrier he must break through.

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Blasting water

Having broken through the barrier, the firefighter blasts a stream of water at a target.

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The dummies

Each contestant--be it a single firefighter or a team--has a dummy that has to be carried to the finish line. The dummy weighs 175 pounds.

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Crossing the finish line

Here, a team crosses the finish line with its dummy.

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The hose connection

This connector links both teams' hoses to a central water supply.

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Kid blasting water

At the Firefighter Combat Challenge, kids can participate too. A separate, kids-only course was set up nearby, allowing the many children on hand to get a taste of what the professionals are doing.

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Kid lugging hose

A child lugs a small folded up package of hose down the kids course.

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