Durango firefighter wins
November 23, 2001
Ray Fredette, a
Durango firefighter pictured at the fire station last
week, placed second in the Firefighters Combat Challenge
in Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month. The strenuous
competition is known as the "toughest two minutes in
By Jennifer Reeder
Special to the
For a man his age, Ray Fredette can sure put out
The Durango firefighter won an award while
representing Durango at the Firefighters Combat Challenge in
Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month. Fredette, 50, placed
second in his age category with a time of 1:57:63, missing
first place by just 6/100ths of a second.
He competed in the 50-and-older age group.
Fredette’s wife, Laurie, was quick to point out her husband’s
time proves "a man of his years" can compete with younger
"They call it the toughest two minutes in
sports," she said.
The purpose of the international contest is "to
encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the profession’s
rigors to the public," according to the competition’s Web
site. Contestants run through an obstacle course that
simulates real-life firefighting situations, such as running
upstairs with hoses and "rescuing" dummies.
"We call the competition ‘The IQ Test,’"
Fredette said. "If you do it, you’re pretty dumb."
Laurie Fredette dismissed her husband’s attempts
to downplay his achievement.
"To beat two minutes puts you in an elite
category," she said. "It’s a really proud moment when you see
your husband marching with the finalists. The nationals are
the best of the best."
Fredette’s performance in the qualifying
regional round Oct. 30 gave him the chance to race in the
final rounds, held Oct. 31 - Nov. 4.
Competitors begin the race by running up five
flights of stairs with a 50-pound hose while "bunkered up" in
50 pounds of clothing and breathing through a self-contained
At the top of the stairs, the hose is thrown
into a box, and a "doughnut roll," or tightly wound hose, is
pulled hand-over-hand from the ground.
After the doughnut roll is thrown into the box,
contestants simulate ventilating a building with a Kaiser
sled, a piece of training equipment.
Then they run 100 feet through cones and grab a
charged, or water-filled, fire hose, which they carry 100 feet
and discharge at a target. During the final leg, contestants
run backwards to the finish line while dragging a 180-pound
dummy by its armpits.
"I’ll try to do it 15 or 20 seconds faster next
time," Fredette said.
Fredette, who has been a Durango firefighter for
seven years, grew up in New York. His younger brother, Tom, is
a firefighter working at ground zero.
After living in Seattle and working on oil
tankers, Fredette and his wife decided to seek a drier
climate. After moving to Durango, Fredette looked into
volunteering at the fire station. After meeting the captain,
he became a paid firefighter in June 1994.
"We’ve felt very welcome in this town," Fredette
Fredette also helped the Durango relay team
qualify for the finals, though the team didn’t compete in the
event when some teammates were called back to work.
One relay teammate, Steve Lift, told a "classic
Ray story" to illustrate Fredette’s excellent conditioning. A
young firefighter from a different agency asked Fredette to
lead him on a run through a training course, which Fredette
agreed to do. But a few minutes into the exercise, Fredette
turned around to discover the young firefighter had vanished.
The man was found throwing up behind the showers.
"Ray felt terrible, of course," said Lift with a
laugh. He added that the young man was never seen at the
Durango Fire Station again.
"Ray is everybody’s idol," Lift said. "He’s what
we all aspire to."
Lift is not alone in his praise of Fredette and
his success at the competition.
"It’s quite an accomplishment, especially for a
guy from a small department and no training facilities
competing with firefighters from the big cities," fire Captain