“The toughest two minutes in sports” — Perham Fire Department headed to N.D. for firefighter challenge – Perham Focus

PERHAM — Members of the Perham Fire Department take their commitment to life-saving quite seriously — so much so that they began a fitness initiative in early 2022 to improve their overall health. As a part of this initiative, five firefighters will be competing in the Firefighter Challenge in Bismarck, N.D. on July 15 and 16.

“They call (the Firefighter Challenge) the toughest two minutes in sports,” said Dan Kenyon, member of the Perham Fire Department and competitor. “It literally taxes your body in pretty much every way possible.”

Kenyon will be competing alongside his fellow Perham Fire Department members: Clayton Troutman, Jake Huebsch, Cody Arth, and Ted Tulibaski. On Friday, July 15, they’ll compete individually, and on Saturday, July 16, they’ll compete in tandems and teams.

The challenge consists of competitors donning their “full bunker gear” and the Air-Pak breathing apparatus, which is what they’d wear when fighting a real fire. From there, competitors race to compete in the physically demanding challenge: climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses, and rescuing a life-sized, 175-pound “victim.”

“This fitness initiative is so successful because we’re suffering together as brothers,” competitor and firefighter Cody Arth said, discussing the physical demands of training. “It’s not unlike something we would experience (in a real fire). Here you learn how to pace yourself and your strength and your capacity, and then you’re not testing yourself on the fire scene.”

Fellow member Ted Tulibaski continued, “(After several fires prior to the fitness initiative) I felt awful afterward. I went through a couple bottles of air and suffered the next couple of days. Since April, I’ve felt great. Working out made a world of difference.”

Cody Arth originally heard about this competition in 2016 when he was working at a Crossfit program. The Firefighter Challenge came to their state fair, and they volunteered to help reset the obstacles. Arth spent about 10 hours hauling the 175-pound dummy back and forth for competitors, which was quite the first impression.

A few years later, after joining the Perham Fire Department, he worked up the courage to compete in the challenge in Bismarck. Then, later on that year, Kenyon joined him for another go at the competition. Now, after telling their fellow department members about the challenge and showing them videos, Troutman, Huebsch, and Tulibaski decided to join on in.

“The rest is history,” Arth laughed. He and Kenyon both hope to complete the individual challenge in under two minutes, which is the time needed in their age group to qualify for nationals.

“I’m super competitive, and I just want to beat Dan and Cody’s times from last year,” Huebsch joked. “My goal is one second under Dan’s.”

On the day of the competition in Bismarck, an announcer will call out the Perham Fire Department, who’ll walk out to music and cheers. The public is welcome to come out and attend the challenge, and the competitors would love to hear them cheer and applaud when they’re called out.

Then, the challenge will begin. For those who can’t attend in person, the Perham Fire Department hopes to livestream the individual runs on their

Facebook page, @perhamfiredepartment

.

While these five are taking part in the fire department’s fitness initiative to train for this challenge, that’s not the only reason. They’re also not the only department members working on strengthening their bodies.

According to these competitors, one of the leading causes of death for firefighters on the line of duty is cardiac events, which they find to shock those they tell. They hope that through raising awareness for healthy living, they can help prepare their bodies for the taxing duty of extinguishing fires and saving lives. Not only is this good for the health and safety of the firefighters, but it’s also good for the people they rescue.

“(The fitness initiative) is good for camaraderie between us too,” said fellow competitor and firefighter Clayton Troutman. “I’ve been on the fire department for 19 years. It’s fun to get in and hang out with each other.”

The other competitors expressed the same sentiment — that they’ve never felt as much of a connection with their fellow firefighters before. It prepares them to work together in every way possible, including on-duty firefighting.

The department has around 30 members, and they respond to around 180 calls per year in Perham, Richville, and five townships. They also provide mutual aid to other cities, and every member chooses to help on a volunteer basis.

“We’ve had a lot of support in the department and a lot of support from the city and elected officials,” Huebsch said. “So we thank them for the support.”

For more information about the Firefighter Challenge, go to

firefighterchallenge.com

. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering for the Perham Fire Department, visit their

Facebook page, @perhamfiredepartment.

While the five competitors are nervous for the upcoming challenge, they’ve done a few practice runs during their workouts. They’re as prepared as they can possibly be for the “toughest two minutes in sports.”

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