Fort Bragg firefighters Jaymon Hotz, and Keith DiPaini, have proven that firefighters not only put out fires and save lives, but they are also top competing athletes.

These two military veterans participated in the ESPN-covered 3M Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Virginia and qualified for the final round.

For the challenge, the firefighters had to perform tasks including: Climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized, 175-pound “victim” as they raced against themselves, their opponents and the clock.

“We wear the full gear that we have on when fighting fires,” DiPaini said. “During an obstacle, you are carrying a water hose that weighs 45 pounds up five flights of stairs.”

Competitors race through five stages wearing nearly 50 pounds of gear including helmets, boots, gloves, and a breathing apparatus.

These top competitors took different measures when preparing for this event including various exercises and building their own training equipment for the combat challenge.

“I put together a kid-size snow sleigh and added 45 pounds of sand,” DiPaini said. “Hotz built one as well, but his is a traveling hose trainer.”

Hotz, who has been a firefighter for 11 years, and DiPaini, 30 years, also discussed the competition and the various firefighters they met from all over the United States during the event.

This challenge was founded by Dr. Paul Davis in 1991 and has been attracting hundreds of U.S. and Canadian municipal fire departments from more than 25 locations. The challenge is now expanding to other countries around the world, including New Zealand, Germany, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.

The Firefighter Combat Challenge starts in April and ends in October every year.

Competitors with the best results move forward to the final stage, called The Challenge Worlds. This event was held in October and took place in California.

When asked what advice do you have for future fighters who want to compete for the event, DiPaini said: “Have fun, and know your body.”

For more information about the competition and results, visit www.firefighterchallenge.com.