CENTER POINT, Ala. (WIAT) – Ana Ruzevic started her career in life insurance, but quickly decided that wasn’t for her. She wanted something active, and what she found was a career that gives her the chance to save lives and inspire hearts.
Ruzevic is a firefighter for Center Point Fire District. She also works for the Vestavia Hills Fire Department and is the first female firefighter in that department’s history. And when she’s not busy fighting fires around central Alabama, she’s working toward winning more competitions at the Firefighter Combat Challenge, an event that some have called the toughest two minutes in sports.
“You have to climb stairs, drag hose, you have to drag a 165 pound dummy,” Center Point Fire Chief Gene Coleman said, describing the event. “They have all their turnout gear on, the breathing apparatus and the tools that we use.”
Coleman encourages his crew to participate in the events each year because they help firefighters improve their skills. Ruzevic started competing in 2018 for the thrill of competition.
“It was a way to continue competing especially because I was a collegiate track and field athlete,” she said.
But she’s quickly become a top competitor. This fall, in just her second season, she earned the title of Grand National Champion, an award given to the firefighter who earns the most points in a season.
“It’s a great feeling,” Ruzevic said. “Because there’s quite a few people going to all of these events.”
In the process of winning competitions she picked up some fans, including a young girl she won’t soon forget.
“They had a kids course set up, so every time she would see me she would run up to me and give me hugs and ask me to do the kids course with her,” Ruzevic said. “So it’s great to see the influence that, as a female firefighter, I can have on younger kids, especially girls.”