As a woman who does not back down from a challenge, Jonquil Newland had the perfect opportunity to take one on thanks to the Nashville Fire Department. The department invited members of the media to go through its recruitment physical exam Friday.
She was the only media member who accepted the challenge and she quickly learned why.
It all started with a fitting, albeit not the kind of fitting Jonquil's used to. “You were wearing the fire coat, an SCBA (air tank), a helmet and gloves,” Training Fire Chief Scott Lively said.
In all, it was about 50 pounds of weight. Once I was all strapped in, it was time for the obstacle course. Every applicant must pass the course in order to even be considered for a spot in the new recruitment class.
The first obstacle, a daunting 85-foot ladder climb. She said she kept thinking to herself, "one foot, one hand in front of the other." It looked high from the ground, but at the top, the slightest breeze made the ladder sway.
Once her feet were back on the ground it was on to the next obstacles; sledge hammer swings, a fire hose pull, a fire hose pick up, weight lifting, and several times up and down stairs carrying fire hoses.
Finally, it was time for the last obstacle, a 50 foot crawl followed by a 50 foot, 200 pound dummy pull. Battalion 78 was there to cheer her on at the end.
“Anybody can do it if you commit to it,” Lively said.
Applicants must finish the course in under seven minutes. Her time was 4:47 seconds - she said she was exhausted but I did it.
“Truth of the matter is anybody can do it if you train for it, you put your heart and desire into it,” said Lively. He's been with the department 22 years and loves to see applicants turn into new recruits.
“We’re in the people-helping business, that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.
Anyone interested in applying to become a Nashville Fire Fighter you can do so on the city's website. Remember, Jonquil said if she can do it, so can anyone else.