Women Firefighters Hope They're TUFF Enough to Win Challenge

Knoxville (WVLT) - The Knoxville Fire Department is traveling to Bell Buckle, Tennessee this weekend for the 3rd Annual Tennessee Ultimate Firefighter Challenge, or TUFF.

And this time, it won't just be the men defending their title.

Volunteer TV's Kiley Yarbrough has the details on what makes this year's competition so unique.

On Saturday, a team of five men and a first-ever team of three women will travel to middle Tennessee to find out if both the men and women on the KFD squad are tough enough to bring home both titles

"There are some phenomenal women in the Knoxville Fire Department and I am just glad to be a part of that," said Captain Mayme Taylor.

Taylor, as well as two other recruits, make up KFD's first ever women's team to compete in the Tennessee Ultimate Firefighter Challenge.

"I am proud of it, so proud of it," said Taylor.

"I just thought that us coming in as new recruits, it would be interesting for us to see what we had," said April Allen, a KFD recruit.

"I can show everybody that size doesn't matter," said Mindy Myers, another KFD recruit.

Size... or gender!

"We are not really women out here, to be honest with you. They take us in a little bit, but for the most part, we stand on our own. We have to do the same thing. The fire doesn't care if we are women or not," said Allen.

At practice, the women's team completed the five evolution course in 2:58.

"Each aspect of the course is job related, forced entry, lifting heavy things, dragging people," said Allen.

"We run up and down the tower, pull hose," says Myers.

As is the case with an actual fire situation, the key to the competition is endurance.

"You can do one thing and do it really well, but then you have to have the energy to do another thing right behind it," says Taylor.

And although this is a first for these women, they say it's the decades of dignity that is in their favor.

"We have all these years of pride, like 120 years of pride from the fire department behind us, so we are going to use that and channel on that and do our best job and I think we could bring it home," said Taylor.

A fourth teammate, Melody Neubert, recently suffered a sprained ankle, so she will not be able to compete this year.

Also to note, their only competitors are also from Knoxville.

They will take on the lady firefighters of Rural/Metro.

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