LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Lawton firefighter hopefuls tested their strength and stamina on the first day of tryouts for the department.
The Lawton Fire Department took in about 100 applications last month. This weekend, they start narrowing down their choices with a grueling obstacle course. It's specifically designed to test every physical part of a firefighter's job.
If you were going to move on to the next round in the application process, you have to make it through the physical test in less than seven and a half minutes.
They were out there running up four flights of stairs while lugging a fire hose, setting up and taking down ladders and turning on a fire hydrant in record time. One of the applicants tried out the past two years, but didn't make it, so he's hoping the third time's the charm.
"It's a small thing in life, but right now it's one of the biggest things," said Zac Neighbors, one of the applicants.
Neighbors finished the course with his best time ever, coming in at less than six minutes, which means he passed the course with flying colors, but not without hard work.
"About the time you get to the third flight, you're tired. That's when you know you're tired," Neighbors said.
Neighbors spent a month practicing before the day he had to go through the course when it counted.
Jared Williams, a member of the fire department's training division, says they help the candidates in getting their time down.
"It's kind of a unique situation. You think of a test and you think you don't want to see people pass, but we, the more candidates that pass, the better it is for us," Williams said.
It's not just to test the recruit's physical abilities. These are things that they will face in real like situations as firefighters, which could be the difference between life and death. The hardest part is at the end when they have to drag a 200-pound dummy 150 feet to show that no matter what they went through before, they could take a person to safety.
"You're tired, and you gotta pull him out of the fire or out of a bad situation, that's testing your heart right there to see if you want it," Neighbors said.
There is one more round of the obstacle course Saturday morning. Later that afternoon, the candidates who passed will take the written exam before moving on to a panel interview. From there, they will be scored, ranked and brought in to a final interview where they will find out if they made it.
Some in this group of potential recruits will take up some unfilled spots, but most of them will end up at Lawton's new fire station, station #8, which broke ground Thursday.