Pittsfield hosts Firefighter Combat Challenge

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Firefighters from around the Northeast, and even the country, are heading to Pittsfield for the Firefighter Combat Challenge. The event is happening Friday night and Saturday.

The firefighters go through a challenging course, all while wearing full gear.

With about 40 pounds of firefighting gear and a five-story climb ahead of him, Berkshire Money Management CEO and "honorary firefighter" Allen Harris set off to train for the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

"Seeing what they have to do to actually go in and extricate a body, do a forcible entry, climb upstairs and rescue someone, it’s not an easy feat," Allen explained.

He’ll be competing in the individual competition Friday night.

The national challenge has been around for 30 years, and consists of five different evolutions or challenges. Harris’ company is one of the main sponsors that helped Pittsfield Fire Deputy Chief Dan Garner bring the race to the community. Garner says the challenge is about more than just friendly competition.

"I have a family that I want to go home to at the end of my shift. The last thing I want is for something preventable to bring me down," Deputy Chief Garner said. "The number one killer of firefighters is stress and heart disease, not burning buildings."

The free and family-friendly event is open to the public. There will also be a children’s course available.

Todd Shelton, operations manager for the Firefighter Combat Challenge, says the event also highlights an important message for the community.

"Where would we be without our first responders?" he explained.

Shelton and Deputy Chief Garner are encouraging all firefighters, including retired firefighters, to participate.

MORE INFORMATION: Firefighter Combat Challenge