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Winston-Salem fire Captains Duane Cheek and Ricky Brown took first place in the Over-50 Tandem competition and set a world record in the Over-50 Relay competition during the Scott Safety Firefighter Combat World Challenge, held Nov. 14-19 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

In the tandem competition, Cheek and Brown, both 53, required just 1 minute, 44.1 seconds to complete a series of firefighting-related tasks that included climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses, and rescuing a life-sized, 175 lb. rescue manikin, all while wearing their full firefighting equipment, including a breathing apparatus.

Also on the Winston-Salem team competing in Myrtle Beach with Cheek and Brown were Captain John Pennington, Engineer Chaz Browning, Firefighters Keith Dillon, Nick Riddle, and Amy Harris, and Bill Pietrantonio, a retired fire captain from Everett, Mass., who now lives in Winston-Salem and competes with the team.

Members of the team also placed in five other categories:

  • Individual Over Age 55: Bill Pietrantonio, 3rd Place;
  • Individual Over Age 50: Duane Cheek, 4th Place, Ricky Brown, 6th Place;
  • Relay Over Age 40: Duane Cheek, Ricky Brown, and Bill Pietrantonio, 2nd Place;
  • Relay Over Age 50: Duane Cheek, Ricky Brown, and Bill Pietrantonio, 2nd Place. During a preliminary round on Nov. 16, Cheek, Brown and Pietrantonio bested their own world record in this event, set last year at Lexington, Ky., with a new record of 1:25.85. However, during the finals on Nov. 19 they ran a slower time and came in second.
  • Open Male Tandem: Chaz Browning, 10th place (ran with Greensboro Firefighter Bruce Fields).

Winston-Salem was the only department in the World Challenge to earn medals in all three divisions- Individual, Tandem, and Relay, Cheek said. “I am extremely impressed and excited for the ‘young guys’ on the team,” Cheek said. “Their relay team ran extremely well against the fastest line-up of relay teams we have ever had at World Finals. They posted awesome times, but were eventually knocked out.”

Fire Chief Antony R. Farmer congratulated the team on its performance. “We are excited that we continue to have you as a team and proud of you being winners,” Farmer said. “We are already looking forward to next year.”

More than 600 firefighters competed in the Scott Safety Firefighter Combat World Challenge in Myrtle Beach after competing in qualifying rounds earlier in the year. The Firefighter Combat Challenge attracts teams from fire departments throughout the United States and is now expanding to countries around the world. This year’s World Challenge included firefighters from Germany, Canada, France, and New Zealand.

The challenge encourages firefighter fitness and demonstrates the rigors of firefighting to the public. Firefighters wear "full bunker gear-PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)" and a Scott Air-Pak breathing apparatus. Pairs of competitors race head-to-head through the course. This year marked the 20th year for the event. The Winston-Salem Fire Department has been participating in the Scott Safety Firefighter Combat Challenge for 17 years.

Winston-Salem Fire Department web site 


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