One of Wheeling’s Bravest Is at the Top of Her Game

Hoffman Takes First Place in Firefighter Challenge in Germany

Photo by Scott McCloskey Wheeling Firefighter/EMT Brittany Hoffman, left, is pictured at the department’s headquarters in Center Wheeling along with her supervisors, Asst. Chief Paul Harto, center, and Lt. Ed Geisel Jr.

WHEELING – It was during high school that Wheeling firefighter/EMT Brittany Hoffman first became interested in firefighting. Now, more than five years later, she brought home first place in the women’s division at the fourth Mosel Firefighter Combat Challenge in Germany just two weeks ago.

Considered to be the hardest 2-minute competition in the world, according to the challenge’s website, 24-year-old Hoffman competed against more than 20 other women from Germany, Slovenia, Austria, New Zealand and several other countries. She placed first in her age division — 18-40 — with a time of 2 minutes, 37 seconds.

“Coming in first was pretty awesome. It was cool to represent the U.S. and come away with a first place,” Hoffman said. A native of Western Pennsylvania, Hoffman obtained a college degree in fire science and was one of the first two females hired by the Wheeling Fire Department last summer. She said the entire Combat Challenge experience is about much more than winning a competition — it is about the relationships you make, the things you learn and the experience you gain.

“You meet a ton of people and you learn so much from everybody,” Hoffman commented. She said it also helps keep you fit for your job.

According to the Mosel Firefighter Combat Challenge website, aside from the sporting element of the competition — the challenge is about making one of the toughest jobs faster and safer. Hoffman said she couldn’t agree more, and she loves working for the Wheeling Fire Department.

The challenge simulates a structure fire by implementing five different stages which are performed by participants in full turnout gear with full respiratory gear and without a break.

Each competitor wears a breathing apparatus during the individual components of the challenge, while you run without the mask during the team competition.

The challenge includes: running a five-story stair climb on an outdoor tower, which includes carrying a more than 40 pound firefighting gear “high-rise pack” up the steps.

Subsequently, the participant must hoist a hose to the top of the tower with a rope as fast as possible. The competitor then descends the tower and runs to an area where they must hit a 165-pound weight on a sled with a heavy sledge hammer until the weight moves approximately 6 feet.

This element of competition is suppose to simulate forcing entry through a door or blocked area. The challenge then moves to running a slalom style course around cones. The fourth station involves dragging a water-filled hose approximately 75 feet through doors and hitting a target with the water. The fifth and final station simulates the rescue of an individual by dragging a 175-pound mannequin a total of 106 feet.

Hoffman decided to get involved with the Combat Challenge about two years ago along with a friend who competed in them at that time. She has competed in the challenge in different locations around the country nearly a dozen times now.

The competition is also held in Canada and several different countries around Europe.

Hoffman said in addition to her regular work duties as a firefighter, she trains for the challenge by spending a lot of time working out at the gym during her off-duty time. Occasionally she will perform “full gear” workouts to try and keep sharp on her competitive skills.

Assistant Wheeling Fire Chief Paul Harto said the entire department is extremely proud of Hoffman and her accomplishments.

“Over the last year, she has really been outstanding,” Harto said. “She came in and she really knows her job and she does it very well.”