Firefighter challenge returns to Carlsbad for first time since 2018

After a short absence the On-Target Firefighter Combat Challenge returns to Carlsbad later this year.

Tuesday night, Carlsbad City Councilors approved a request from the Carlsbad Fire Department to host the challenge in downtown Carlsbad in early October.

Carlsbad Fire Chief Richard Lopez said the last challenge in Carlsbad was in 2018 at the Lake Carlsbad Beach.

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He said plans did not materialize between the City and the organization responsible for the challenge in 2019 and last year COVID-19 cancelled all activities in and around Carlsbad.

“Our Carlsbad Fire Department has hosted the fireman challenge for over 10 years. Carlsbad Fire Department had planned to host the fireman challenge at Cavernfest 2020. Due to the COVID (19) pandemic we were unable to make this happen,” said Carlsbad MainStreet Executive Director Ashly Key.

Carlsbad MainStreet Executive Director Ashly Key stands at the gazebo outside the Eddy County Courthouse, Sept. 14, 2020 in downtown Carlsbad.

Lopez said moving the challenge from the Beach to downtown allows for greater community involvement.

“We want to make it bigger and invite vendors, local companies, to bring out stuff to sell,” he said.

In a memo to Councilors, Lopez said set up would start on Sept. 30 and the actual event starts on the afternoon of Oct. 1 and continues Oct. 2.

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“We are very excited to have the firefighter combat challenge in downtown Carlsbad. This is something we’ve tried to make happen for a few years but scheduling and then COVID (19) prohibited it from happening,” said MainStreet Board of Directors President Jason Shirley.

Key said the event has potential to bring more customers for downtown merchants and restaurants.

“We will also see our community and visitors finally having an opportunity to come together,” she said.

In the memo to councilors, Lopez said the challenge seeks to encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the profession’s rigors to the public.

Carlsbad Fire Chief Richard Lopez

He said contestants wear full firefighting gear and a breathing apparatus.

“Pairs of competitors stimulate the physical demands of real-life competitors stimulate the physical demands of real life firefighting by performing a linked series of fire tasks including climbing the 5-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life sized 175 pound victim,” Lopez wrote in the memo.

He added competitors’ race against themselves their opponents and the clock.