How the Firefighter Combat Challenge came to be

By Dr. Paul Davis
President and founder of the FFCC

For the uninitiate (a person unfamiliar with a specific topic or subject) upon first seeing the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, the likely question: “What is this and where did it come from?“ Good questions, both.

Back in the dark ages of personnel selection, fire chiefs believed that big(ger) people tended to excel at the avocation. Ergo, there were minimum height and weight standards. No one considered that women would ever want a career in this most male of occupations. Disparate impact was an unfamiliar term in those days. So, in 1975, Chief David Gratz who was the director of fire-rescue service for Montgomery County (MD) and Dr. Leonard Marks paid us a visit at the Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, Department of Kinesiology. They wanted to know if there was a way to measure what it took to, for example, climb a ladder and chop a hole in a roof. “Sure,” we remarked.

FEMA was still a distant gleam in someone’s eye, but the formation of what would become the National Fire Administration was gaining some traction. This new agency under the Department of Commerce would have money to fund research. A research proposal was cobbled together and submitted with the backing of our US Senator, J. Glen Beall. For the modest sum of $87,216 we embarked on a project that would become the first study to link empirically physical performance constructs with simulated job tasks for structural firefighters.

Read the full blog entry here.