Fastest hose in the West

Craig Fire/Rescue team wins state tourney

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— Craig residents can sleep a bit easier today.

The firefighters, who would be called on to respond in case of emergency, have been crowned state champs.

The three-man Craig Fire/Rescue Team - Troy Hampton, Chris Mercer and Steve Lingo - earned first place Friday at the Colorado State Fire Fighters Association's annual tournament in Commerce City.

"It's actually kind of a big tradition thing for us," team leader Hampton said. "To be able to pick up where our retired firefighters left off. They've had several back-to-backs and to be able to pick up where they left off is a huge adrenaline rush for us."

This year's victory was the seventh title in ten years for the Craig team.

Eight teams competed in four events: three-person modified stationary apparatus, three-person option, three-person inline and three-person changeover.

The Craig team was disqualified from the modified stationary apparatus event, when the water was turned on before the fire hose was fully fastened to the hydrant, placing the team in an early hole.

"The rule book says you have to have the hose firmly attached before you turn on the water," Hampton said. "It wasn't attached all the way and all of a sudden, we were down four points."

The team rebounded in the latter three events, recording the fastest times in each.

In the option, Hampton connected the hose to the hydrant, Mercer connected a hose to that hose with an adapter, while Lingo connected a nozzle to the end of the line, ran 65 feet and knocked down a square metal target.

The inline and changeover events began from a moving truck.

During inline, Mercer jumped off the vehicle while it was moving at 15 miles per hour and hooked a hose to the truck. Hampton then hooked the line to a hydrant and turned the water on, while Lingo hooked another hose to the truck, attached a nozzle and ran to knock down a target 50 feet away.

Trailing by one point heading into the final event - changeover - Hampton said he was confident the team could win.

"The moving events are pretty much our bread and butter," he said. "Most of the teams wait for the truck to stop. Not us. We jump off while it's still moving."

Hampton leapt first during the final event, attaching a hose to a hydrant and turning on the water. Lingo - hands full - attached two 50-foot hoses to a "Y" splitter, clamping the main hose. Hampton and Lingo then each ran 100 feet to shoot two targets with the two smaller hoses.

Craig finished the four events combined in "about 45 seconds," according to Hampton, winning the tournament by one point.

"It was really close," Mercer said. "We were nervous and we were feeling the pressure. To come back and win by one kind of eased last year's one-point loss."

Hampton and Mercer each said the adrenaline found in an event like the CSFFA tournament is intense, but doesn't even come close to the adrenaline found when fighting a fire.

"Everything is going much faster in a real fire," Hampton said, "and you never run in a fire. You may run to a burning building, but not inside."

Mercer agreed.

"It's nothing like a real fire," he said. "If you screw up (in the tourney) it's really no big deal.

"If you screw up in a fire, it could mean your life."

The team's goals for next year are simple:

"We want back-to-back," Hampton said. "The only problem is we are running out of trophy space."

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