Firefighter-themed Obstacle Race Challenges Participants, Boosts Volunteerism While Honoring Firefighting Heroes
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Commissioner of Emergency Services Daniel Neaverth, Jr., Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Forestry Troy Schinzel, and volunteer firefighters at Chestnut Ridge Park to preview the “Hero Rush” obstacle course race planned for Saturday, June 8th at the park. Hero Rush, a tough but fun journey of nearly 5 miles, is a uniquely demanding course consisting of up to 20 firefighter-themed obstacles, pushing participants to tackle the situations and challenges that firefighters face on the job while allowing racers to feel what it’s like to take part in and overcome difficult tasks. While Hero Rush events are held nationwide, this marks the first appearance of the arduous adventure in Erie County.
Hero Rush promises to be the largest volunteer firefighter recruitment event ever in Erie County as recruiters will be on hand with their new MRU–Mobile Recruitment Unit, distributing volunteering information and showing off their Flame-Sim™ Firefighting Simulation System and a 20-foot tall inflatable fire engine bounce house. All of this will be at the forefront of the Inferno Midway with activities for children and adults, as well as antique and modern fire apparatus, demonstrations by county volunteer fire departments, music, food, and beverages.
“Hero Rush is a great opportunity for residents to come out and experience first-hand what our firefighters go through as part of their jobs. These physical tests, meant to challenge the strength and endurance, will also produce a new appreciation of what our local heroes selflessly do as they protect our community,” said Poloncarz. “It is also a way for potential recruits to learn more about ways they can help in protecting our community, by stepping up to serve as others do. I would like to thank Commissioners Neaverth, Jr. and Schinzel, as well as their partners at Hero Rush, for bringing this important, exciting, and exhausting event to Chestnut Ridge Park.”
“The Department of Emergency Services is thrilled to be a part of what we hope will be the largest firefighter recruitment and retention event of the year. As part of our ongoing recruitment efforts, we were looking to create a ‘firefighter experience’ in a big way to motivate citizens to get involved in our volunteer fire service, and rather than creating our own, we found Hero Rush to be the perfect fit,” said Commissioner Neaverth. “Our iVolunteerFIRE.org recruitment campaign brought more than 600 new recruits into our volunteer fire service last year alone, and this event promises to bolster those numbers even more.”
This all-day family-friendly event offers two unique kids’ courses, including a Mini Heroes Adventure Course for children age 4-6 and a half-mile Junior Heroes Course for kids age 7-13. Adult runners, meanwhile, will confront a course designed by veteran firefighters meant to test participants’ stamina and resolve in a fun, high-energy environment that could include crawling through windows, breaking down doors, and saving trapped victims in obstacles with names like “Towering Inferno”, “Staying Alive”, and “Basement Entrapped”, to name a few. An obstacle unique to the Chestnut Ridge course is that participants will search their way through Erie County’s actual live fire training facility and roof ventilation simulator located inside the park. Dubbed “Hoarder’s Hell”, rushers will race through the smoke filled halls of the 5-story training tower while climbing over and around furniture, clutter and other debris to find their way out.
The event also supports fallen firefighters and their families with the “West Webster (Fire Department) Wave” happening at 12:30 on Saturday, intended to honor those firefighters injured and killed in the horrific Christmas Eve 2012 tragedy. The “343” wave at 11:00 honors the fallen FDNY firefighters of 9/11 and benefits the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Parks Commissioner Schinzel added, “The Parks Department is pleased to assist the Emergency Services Department in supporting Hero Rush at Chestnut Ridge Park. The overall theme, purpose, and potential benefits for Erie County regarding emergency services personnel recruiting, retention, and general show of appreciation should be commended and congratulated. Without the same volunteer and support-based assistance that these individuals provide on a regular basis this event would not have taken place.”
The race is hosted by the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry, the Erie County Department of Emergency Services, and iVolunteerFIRE.org, the official recruitment campaign of the Erie County Volunteer Fire Service.
The campaign promotes strength in numbers with the slogan “We are Erie County’s Volunteer Firefighters: More than 5,000 strong. With you we can be stronger!”
Anyone interested in learning more about serving in the Erie County Volunteer Fire Service is encouraged to reach out to their local volunteer fire department, click iVolunteerFIRE.org or call the Recruitment HQ hotline at 716-601-3021 for more information.