Join the Firefighter 5K Challenge

All fire departments and companies across New York State are invited to participate in a public display of firefighters’ pride and their commitment to physical fitness by entering a team in the Firefighter 5K Challenge. The event is sponsored by the Bank of Greene County and will take place on Sunday, April 30, in Chatham.

The Firefighter 5K Challenge is a race within a race. Conducted as part of the 16th annual Sean’s Run 5K, which attracts runners and walkers of all levels from across the Hudson Valley. Teams of firefighters will distinguish themselves in a field of 1,400 runners and walkers by completing the 3.1-mile run while wearing bunker pants, fire company T-shirts and running shoes. In the pilot Firefighter 5K Challenge last year, some firefighters chose to run in turnout coats, helmets and proudly carry their company flag on the route.

Companies and departments challenge themselves and other firefighting units by seeing which company or department can get five members to finish the 5K with the lowest combined time. The team with the lowest combined time for their first five wins the title: Champions of the Firefighter 5K Challenge. Bragging rights and medals are awarded to the fastest teams.

Accepting the Challenge

Fire companies and departments can sign up as many members as they want, as individual participants, in the Sean’s Run 5K by registering online at

On the day of the event, firefighters arrive at Chatham High School by 10:30 a.m. to check in and pick up their Sean’s Run packet inside the high school gymnasium. After picking up bib numbers and their complimentary souvenir T-shirt, firefighters proceed to the Firefighter 5K Challenge tent near the starting line of the 5K. There, each department or company will identify their members before the start of the 5K at noon.

Following the 5K, all firefighters will be invited to enjoy a spread of nutritional refreshments and party-like finish line festivities and enjoy the camaraderie and pride of having completed the challenge.

Benefits of Organizing a Team

Fire department and company officers, following the pilot Firefighter 5K Challenge in 2016, reported that the event served as a great way to promote physical fitness and strengthened the bonds among their members. A fire company First Lieutenant, beaming proudly after completing the 5K in his turnout gear, talked about how the event put a wonderful light on volunteer firefighters and could be a recruitment opportunity. “We run into burning buildings, so a 3-mile jog in bunker pants is nothing to a firefighter,” he said.

Email Jeff French, Past Secretary of Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association and life member of Mellenville Volunteer Fire Co. at for more information.