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SFD members in training for worldwide firefighter challenge

Date: 2/9/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD Imagine climbing the five-story tower, hoisting heavy weights, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized 175-pound "victim" in a matter of one minute and 40 seconds. Now imagine doing that in full firefighter gear.

That's what John DeForest and Chris Dipietro of the Springfield Fire Department are training for at Attain Sports Performance in East Longmeadow. Under the guidance of Steve Conca, director of Strength/Conditioning, DeForest and Dipietro are readying themselves for the Fire Fighter Challenge, in which pairs of competitors race head-to-head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life fire fighting.

The Springfield Fire Department placed second in the state challenge in 2008 and this year they plan on going all the way to the global competition in Las Vegas.

From the state competition, a team would move on to the regional, then the national, then the worldwide competitions.

"It's a challenge. It's a tough event," Dipietro said during a brief break in training.

Conca puts the firefighters through the paces by pushing them through high intensity workouts for approximately the length of the Fire Fighter Challenge one minute, 40 seconds to two minutes.

On the day Reminder Publications stopped by Attain Sports Performance to witness the training, Dipietro and DeForest were pushing and pulling sleds with up to 190 pounds of weight on them, bouncing medicine balls, sprinting, doing pull-ups and lifting kettlebells.

DeForest said he and Dipietro train at Attain Sports Performance every 10 days and work out on their own the rest of the time. The two started their training with Conca in October.

The firefighters really push themselves during the training because "the competition is the best of the best," according to DeForest.

Conca said he took a "three-prong approach" for the firefighters training. He started by assessing their movement patterns and screening out any inefficiencies; he then worked on getting them used to training a certain way; and now he runs them through a mock Fire Fighter Challenge course.

"At Attain Sports Performance, we're geared at improving human performance," Conca said.

The Fire Fighter Challenge attracts hundreds of U.S. and Canadian municipal fire departments every year. The competition is expanding to including New Zealand, Germany, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. The challenge encourages fire fighter fitness and demonstrates the profession's rigors to the public.

For more information on the challenge, visit