Former Enterprise girl tops firefighter challenge

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Jessica Morehouse, left, poses with her firefighting teammate, Stacey Billapando, right, moments after setting their first world record for female tandem rescue in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Former Enterprise girl Jessica Morehouse has just set the world's record for rescue speed as a firefighter.

Twice.

Airman First Class Morehouse is a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force, based out of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. She and her rescue partner, Stacey Billapando of Colorado Springs Fire Department, set the record for female tandem rescue at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Omaha, Neb., in October.

Then the duo went on to win the Nationals at Arlington, Texas, two weeks later. Now they are set to compete in the World Finals in Las Vegas Nov. 15 to 20.

The Scott Firefighter competitions showcase the work of firefighters in a public event that is broadcast on ESPN. Wearing full bunker gear and Scott Air-Pak breathing apparatus, pairs of competitors race head to head as they simulate the demands of firefighting. The events draw hundreds of competitors from civilian and military fire departments in the U.S. and Canada.

The event is expanding and competitors from New Zealand, Germany, Argentina, Chile and South Africa are expected to compete in the Nevada event.

In the tandem portion of events, one partner in full gear runs approximately 100 feet to a five-story tower and runs up it with a 45-pound bundle on her back. At the top of the tower, she hoists a 45-pound hose pack up from the ground by rope, then runs back down the tower to sledgehammer a 155-pound weight approximately six feet to simulate chopping. Billapando did that portion of the event.

Then Morehouse took over, running a 100-foot serpentine, grabbing a "live" fire hose filled with water and dragging it back 100 feet to break through some folding doors and spray a target. There she dropped the hose to grab a 175-pound dummy, which she hauled backwards 125 feet.

The two women performed this feat in Omaha in just 2 minutes, 6.22 seconds, beating the previous world record of 2:11.13. That wasn't good enough for them, however. They went on to best their own world record with a time of two minutes flat at the National Finals in Arlington. Now they are on to the World Finals.

The Air Force team also took first place in the men's relay with a world record time of 1:08 and first place in the women's relay, in which Morehouse and her teammate also competed, with a time of 1:50.

"The men and the women do the exact challenge," said Morehouse. "It's a fun way to keep in shape for the department and show off our skills."

Morehouse attended kindergarten, grade school and eighth and ninth grade in Wallowa. She joined the Air Force in 2007. She is the daughter of June Becker of Enterprise and First Sgt. Carl Morehouse of Fort Lewis, Wash., and the sister of eighth grader Tristan Morehouse and recent Enterprise High graduate Ashley Morehouse.

For information: (www.firefighterchallenge.com).

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