A team of Rock Hill firefighters earned top honors last week at an annual challenge in Myrtle Beach.
The five-man group known as Team Rock Hill captured first place in both the relay and individual divisions. Contests ranged from lugging fire hoses up five flights of stairs to dragging a mannequin 100 feet to safety.
This is the second time in three years the team has finished in first place.
"I tell people it's not fun," said firefighter Jason Dillon, a 10-year department veteran. "When I can look at myself in the mirror and say, 'That was the fastest you can physically do,' I'll stop. We're going to keep doing it until we can't get any faster."
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Firefighter Chris East won first place in the individual division while the group picked up the team relay award. Members are East, Dillon, Eric Schmittle, Corey Avant and Donald Stevenson.
Next month, Team Rock Hill plans to attend the Kentucky Regional Competition in hopes of qualifying for the World Firefighter Challenge in Las Vegas. In 2005, the team ranked 17th out of 90 finalists worldwide.
To prepare for the challenge, the team gathers at 6:30 a.m. every three days to practice. Because some are assigned to different shifts and some work part-time jobs, they have to meet early.
Sometimes they work out at the Rock Hill YMCA, and other days they practice running flights of stairs and pulling 45-pound hoses to the top of the Guardian Fidelity building in downtown.
They also do individual workouts, weightlifting and sprints.
"This competition really tests us on how well we perform the activities that are critical to our jobs," said Fire Chief Mike Blackmon.