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The Firefighter Challenge League heats up the competition in downtown Indy

Firefighters at FDIC compete in challenges

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A competition is heating up in downtown Indianapolis as a part of the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference.

The Firefighter Challenge League entered day three of its season opener on Thursday.

FCL Communications Director Huan DeRiggs says the league looks to celebrate the spirit of what it takes to be a first responder.

“You might have to see [a firefighter] run up a flight of stairs with some holes on them,” DeRiggs said. “Sometimes you’ll see them do a victim rescue. So it just [gives you] a little idea of the strength and the agility that these firefighters have, as well as just being great first responders.”

Competitors will be fully suited up with an oxygen mask and tank, taking up five obstacles on a race course.

They’ll have to climb five stories, hoist a weight up that height, chop, drag a hose and rescue a 175-pound training mannequin.

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Captain Jacqueline Belluoni is a living legend in the sport. She is a former world champion and a world record holder.

She says she loves what the FCL represents.

“I’ve kind of always been competitive [and] involved in athletics,” Belluoni said. “The world finals were being held in Las Vegas where I work and they’re like, ‘we need someone to come out and do a relay’. I’m like, ‘Sure we’ll try it,’ and I got hooked. I just wanted to get better and better at it.”

It’s split into three divisions developmental, competitive and pro. Brackets are then split up on based on age and gender. There are also individual, 2-person tandems and 5-person relay competitions.

Belluoni’s mixed tandem partner Matt Baca traveled from the Oshawa, Ontario Fire Department. He is also a world champion and record holder in the men’s categories.

He enjoys coming every year to FDIC and the FCL season opener.

“If you ever want to be inspired, it’s an awesome place to come.” Baca said. “It’s an educational component as well as getting myself started for the season. … Tou can come down here and meet people like minded [and] you get to enjoy the city of Indianapolis.”

The action continues Thursday with tandems and relays. The individual championships start Friday at 8:30 a.m. It’s a free event for spectators.