AUSTIN (KXAN) – Not only has Jared Johnson been a firefighter for over ten years, but he has also competed annually in the Firefighter Challenge League for nearly a decade, where he has been National Champion nine times. 

He’s currently a firefighter with the Austin Fire Department. Despite already having an extremely hot and busy summer working, he’s competing this weekend in the 2023 United States National Firefighter Challenge Championship in Hoover, Alabama, and plans to win…again. 

“I have literally built my entire purpose revolving around creating a standard for firefighters and health and fitness,” said Johnson, who also owns a personal training fitness studio called Gym Force.

“If I can show my absolute best, it can hopefully motivate, inspire and encourage other firefighters to do the same because when those calls drop when we’re on shift, lives depend on us to show up,” he continued. 

In the Firefighter Challenge, firefighters compete in an obstacle course designed to mirror the real-life physical demands firefighters encounter on the job. While wearing around 75 pounds of gear and breathing compressed air through an apparatus, firefighters will complete several tasks, including climbing a five-story tower, chopping, hoisting and rescuing a 175-pound dummy.

“You get to train in all aspects which directly go hand in hand with what we might experience on the job at a fire or anything that we put ourselves [through] in emergency situations on the job,” Johnson said. 

Johnson comes from a family of firefighters – his two older brothers are firefighters, as was his father.

“I think we just come from a family of service,” Johnson said. “We enjoy being that person who is prepared and can potentially solve someone’s worst day. There’s no greater reward and feeling than being able to do that on a daily basis,” he said. 

And though he said it’s been a “brutal” summer, the frequent fires and hot weather haven’t extinguished his passion. 

“How many multiple days in a row did we have over 100 degrees? So we feel that because we’re in the elements,” he said.  “But we still show up and do the job because when they need us, we’re there…That’s our purpose. That’s what our reward is,” he said.