Fastest female firefighter—Murray FD’s Taylor WardMar 30, 2023 04:29PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Taylor Ward displays her trophy for taking first place as the fastest female at the Firefighter Combat Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Ward)
Time is of the essence when fighting a fire, and fortunately for Murray residents, Murray FD firefighter Taylor Ward is standing watch over their city. Last July, the Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championship was held at South Towne Mall. Firefighters from all over the world came to Utah to compete in the meet. Ward won the Fastest Female in Utah award and 10th place in the Open Overall Female category in the World Championship.
“I completed the challenge in three minutes and plan on being faster this year,” Ward said.
The challenge seeks to encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the profession’s rigors to the public. Ward competed wearing full turn-out gear. She then raced head-to-head against an opponent in a series of events simulating the physical demands of real-life firefighting. Ward performed a linked series of five tasks, including climbing the 5-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses, and rescuing a life-sized 175-pound dummy. She did all this by racing against her opponent and the clock.
Ward is a paramedic/firefighter at Murray FD. Her responsibilities range from running medical calls to putting out house fires. Being a paramedic/firefighter, she spends equal time between the ambulance and the engine.
Ward’s achievement is particularly noteworthy in a field that men have traditionally dominated. Despite facing gender barriers, Ward has persevered and proven that women can excel in firefighting.
“In high school, I was lucky enough to do an internship with the fire department and fell in love with firefighting,” Ward said. “I love solving problems, facing new challenges, working in a fast-paced environment, and working in teams. Working as a firefighter, you do all those things. Every call we go on is different, and the outcome is always different,” Ward said.
The Firefighter Combat Challenge began in 1991 and is an annual event attracting firefighters worldwide. The competition aims to promote physical fitness and camaraderie among firefighters and raise public awareness of firefighters’ challenging work to protect their communities.
“Competing in the challenge just solidifies how much I love firefighting and the challenge of the job. I loved connecting with other firefighters not only in the state but around the world. It motivates me to maintain a high level of fitness,” Ward said.
While it is no secret that firefighters risk their lives to save others, event organizers hope that this competition helps raise awareness of the importance of a firefighter’s work. In addition, the Firefighter Combat Challenge demonstrates the physical demands that firefighters face daily.
“I decided to compete on a whim; Murray Fire has an extensive history in competing in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, and a co-worker suggested I should go out and compete,” Ward said. “I think physical fitness is one of the most important parts of being a firefighter. I strive to maintain a high level of physical fitness to perform my job as a paramedic/firefighter to a high degree.”
Originally from Lehi, Ward and her two sisters were raised by a single mom. She credits competitively dancing as a Lehi Pionette in high school as helping her in her future career.
“I have always loved competition and challenging myself. When I am not working, I love to work out, cook, fish and hike,” Ward said.
For now, Ward is enjoying her victory and looking forward to continuing her work as a firefighter in Murray City. However, her dedication to her career transcends beyond the firehouse with her work with teenage girls.
“I find it very important to reach out to high school students to show them how rewarding a career in firefighting is,” Ward said. “I have and currently help with different camps for high school girls to show them a career in firefighting.”