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Fire and Surf

Deerfield's Beach Blowout, which started eight years ago to prepare folks for hurricane season (think shutter displays and storm checklists), has since morphed into a weekend-long testosterone fest of hardy coed lifeguard and firefighter competitions. No, it doesn't pit lifeguards against firefighters. Dream on, soft-porn people.

During Friday's lifeguard competitions, Baywatchers compete against one another in seven contests, including a paddleboard race, a beach run, team dory rowing, and a simulated rescue. All very important skills we like to see in our beach patrols, but... bring on the firefighters! Their event has gravitas: The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge is a regional qualifying competition; winners advance to the world challenge, which will also take place in Deerfield Beach (in November) and be broadcast on ESPN.

The Combat Challenge requires participants to make hay out of the same lifesaving skills they perfected on the road to becoming fire-busting heroes. The race consists of an obstacle course with five legs. Wearing 50 pounds of "bunker gear," participants must first run up a five-story platform (this is called the "High Rise Pack Carry"); then pull up 40 pounds of hose to its top ("Hose Hoist"); bang away at a steel beam with a sledgehammer ("Forcible Entry"); navigate a slalom course while pulling a full fire hose ("Hose Advance") before using it to hit a target; and then drag a 175-pound dummy 100 feet to cross the finish line ("Victim Rescue"). The firefighter challenges are divided into Friday's team relays and Saturday's individual competitions. How fast are these smoke junkies? To qualify for November's world challenge, men must finish under a minute and 50 seconds, women under four minutes 30 seconds.

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Dave Amber

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