A group of Memphis firefighters are pushing themselves beyond the training required to ensure the community receives the best emergency response possible. They’re also trying to put Memphis on the map as having some of the world’s fittest, most efficient, and dedicated firefighters.
Founded and led by Mike Coleman, 33, the team of 16 (and growing) call themselves Bluff City Combat. The group trains and travels together to compete in the Firefighter’s Combat Challenge, a series of competitions that test their aptitude in stair climb, hose hoist, hose advance, forcible entry, and victim rescue – all skills essential to success in the jobs they do every day.
“All we want to do is be better. This hobby only makes us better and more efficient firefighters,” Coleman explains. “When it comes to fighting a fire or carrying people, it just makes us do it in a more timely manner. It makes us healthier, so we can give that back to the community.”
As Mike mentioned, these competitions are a “hobby,” done in their free time on their own dime to give them extra motivation to stay in shape and continue pushing themselves beyond their perceived limits.
“Anybody who has responded to some of the emergencies that we have, there are times where you hit your physical wall, but the job may not be done yet,” says Kevin Timmons, 36, who joined the team in May. “It can be a matter of life and death to push past the point of being uncomfortable, and that could make the difference for someone in the community.”
The more the group trains, the more comfortable they become with being uncomfortable.
“There is an overlap besides the fitness and competition elements. But, ultimately, the underlying element of who we are is that this will help us do our job, allowing us to better protect and serve the community, which is our job,” Timmons says.
A partnership with Titan Fitness helped the team expand their competition schedule in 2022, including a recent competition in Pensacola, Florida, where they just missed the podium. They did, however, learn where they needed to focus their training for the next competition.
“We are focusing on technique, handoffs, and making sure we have good form to shave seconds off our time,” Timmons explains. “Doing that two or three times per week as a group is not enough. We do a lot of running, weight lifting, and HIIT (high-intensity interval) training on our own time.”
Since joining the team, Kevin notices the benefits are reaching into his personal life.
“The more you get comfortable choosing to do the hard thing because it’s the right thing, the more it’s true in other areas of your life,” he says. “Don’t take the shortcut, go the extra mile, push yourself to be the best version of who you want to be. Being part of this team gave me another reason to live my life that way.”
As the team looks forward to their next competition, Mike plans for Bluff City Combat to become the team other groups look up to.
“Memphis is a proud city, and we are the eighth largest department in the nation,” he says. “I want people to know these men and women are athletes. When we show up to the competitions, I want people to think, ‘Oh goodness, Memphis is here. I don’t know what we’re going to do now.’”
The team has plans to participate in the World Police and Fire Games held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Summer 2023.
Interested in sponsoring the team? Contact Kevin Timmons at email@example.com.
Follow the team through these social media channels:
- Facebook: The Bluff City Combat Team
- Instagram: @bluff_city_combat_team
- TikTok: @bluffcitycombat
By Kelsey J. Lawrence
Photo by Daniel Scruggs