Firefighter Challenge

Join Us

Rally your department for a fun challenge, and compete against neighboring departments and towns throughout the local area to bring home the coveted Firefighter Challenge Award. Other benefits include:

  • Build stamina
  • Build upper body strength
  • Access a training location
  • Build physical and mental confidence
  • Increase lung disease awareness
  • Increase knowledge of early detection
  • Increase knowledge of available resources
  • Healthy competition with other fire stations and departments
  • Build community trust
  • Make a real difference

The mission of the American Lung Association hits close to home with firefighters because of the increased susceptibility to lung disease. Have your department join us at your local Fight For Air Climb to fund a world free from lung disease.

In addition to our traditional “full-gear” challenge, we also offer a “modified-gear”, “helmets and packs” challenge for those firefighters hoping to remain extra safe from any PFAS in turnout gear, and for folks on light duty. Awards will be given for full-gear, modified-gear, and no-gear categories for teams and individuals, for categories that have a minimum of three participants or teams.

Please see below for explanation of your local participation types, awards, and gear requirements.

Gear Requirements

Full-gear: Nationwide, each participant is required to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which meets current NFPA structural firefighting standards. Gear that is not issued by your department for structural firefighting must meet NFPA 1971 2007 for structural firefighting including Pants, Coats, Helmet, Pack (SEBA tank and mask).

Mask can be worn or attached to body during climb. Air tanks are not required to be filled; however we suggest they are. Please note: not all departments have enough air packs for each participant to use during climb. Departments without enough packs per participant may substitute a 20-pound weight worn on the body to qualify for full-gear participation. No tools (such as axe, pike pole, etc) are allowed on the stairs.

Additional Local Full-Gear Requirements:

  • On-air
  • Hoods & Gloves
  • Liner
  • Hose Roll, Rope Bag

No gear: Nationwide, each participant may wear athletic clothes & gym shoes or sneakers. We suggest you wear a department t-shirt or other branded athletic gear for team pride and photos.

Modified gear: Nationwide, each participant must don “Helmets & Packs” but air tanks are not required to be filled, though preferred to add additional weight for the competition. Participants may substitute a 20-pound weight worn on their body if their department does not have enough tanks.


Team Awards – There must be a minimum of three teams within a category for the Lung Association to include an award.

  • Teams must consist of three climbers to be eligible.
  • No-gear Firefighter individuals and no-gear teams will also be added to overall civilian award categories, i.e. if a 40 year old male FF climbs in no-gear, he will also be eligible for the male 40-49 age group award, a team of female no-gear FF will also be eligible to win fastest female civilian team (this is handled differently locally remove or tweak this based on local needs)
  • Fastest team times - The sum of the top three individuals within a team are counted towards the award OR throw out the high and low individual times on a team if more than three and average the remaining times OR other local way of handing (this is handled differently locally edit this bullet as applicable)
  • Teams with a mix of participation types (i.e. full, modified, and no-gear) may be eligible for awards within each type.

Health Concerns & Resources

  • Respiratory diseases remain a significant health issue for firefighters and first responders.
  • In the line of duty, firefighters may experience occupational exposure to gases, chemicals, particulate and other substances with potentially damaging short and long-term effects on the respiratory system.
  • Firefighters are at a high risk of developing chronic issues, including lingering cough, hoarseness, asthma, and allergies, and in more extreme cases, may be diagnosed with lung or bronchial cancer.
  • As an evolving concern, PFAs, which are chemicals found in a variety of places and products, including drinking water, soil, food packaging, and household products, as well as in firefighter gear, may be a concern for you or your department.
    • The American Lung Association is monitoring the issue, reviewing available research on the topic, and are in talks with a representative selection of firefighters who participate in our Fight For Air Climbs nationwide, to get perspectives and feedback.
    • As such, we have added a modified-gear and a no-gear option to the Firefighter Challenges nationwide. We will continue to follow this issue closely and will evolve our events to ensure the highest level of health and safety for all participants.