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Rockingham firefighters test endurance

Corey McLaughlin holds the ladder for Assistant Chief Vernon McKinnon as he climbs the ladder for the final task in the physical ability test for the Rockingham Fire Department on Monday. See the RO's Facebook page for the video.
William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Firefighters are seeing if they still have what it takes when the alarm sounds.

This week, members of the Rockingham Fire Department are running through their annual physical ability test, a challenge of their endurance for the job.

Fire Chief Harold Isler said it’s similar to the entrance exam he took when he first joined the Goldsboro Fire Department more than 20 years ago.

The first part is to see how fast the fireman can put on his turnout gear.

“We try to be fully dressed and out of the station in two minutes,” Isler said. “It keeps them on their toes.”

Assistant Chief Vernon McKinnon had his gear on in 1:38.

Next he had to drag a hose from the truck bay and give the nozzle a quick spray and knock a tire with a sledgehammer about 20 feet from one line to another. Then he had to carry a ladder to the training building before going inside and upstairs to pull a firehose hand-over-hand to the second-floor window.

Following that task, McKinnon went back downstairs and had to crawl through an obstacle course. Once he made it back outside, he had to take off his air pack and push it in front of him through a plastic tube.

That done, McKinnon went back to the driveway behind the bay to drag a 165-pound dummy 50 feet from the starting line to the finish line.

The final challenge was to climb to the top of a two-story ladder — and back down — touching the top of the building four times.


McKinnon’s total time for the test was 11:04, faster than some firemen half his age.

Each firefighter has to complete the test when they come on board with the department.

“It’s tough,” Isler said. “It’s strenuous.”


*See the Richmond Observer’s Facebook page for the video.*

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.