Exclusive: Arnold Schwarzenegger Previews the 2023 World’s Strongest Firefighter Competition

The fitness icon invites fans to support this competition and firefighters at the Arnold Sports Festival.

The first Arnold Classic in 1989 has since given way to a movement attracting fitness enthusiasts worldwide (think Comic Con for the uber-buff). Since that debut outing in Columbus, OH, the Arnold Classic has expanded into the Arnold Sports Festival (ASF) — which has grown to include a fitness expo, the Arnold Strongman Classic (since 2002), a host of bodybuilding competitions, and over 50 sports and events.

In 2019, as a part of the Arnold Strongman USA event in Santa Monica, CA, the World’s Strongest Firefighter (WSFF) competition joined the ASF’s expanding fitness portfolio. The 2023 WSFF takes place the weekend of March 3-5, 2023, as a part of the ASF in Columbus. Men and women representing their fire departments worldwide will gather to compete in five events to determine the strongest firefighters on the planet. 

Co-founder of the ASF, seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger, is providing a platform for these civil service heroes to compete. This contest is meant to help support them financially. 

“Firefighters and all first responders are true action heroes,” Schwarzenegger wrote to BarBend in an email. “We started this competition to give them a place to show everyone their strength, their power, and their endurance. We are talking about people who can carry you to save your life and run up and down ladders all day. They are selfless public servants keeping us safe without a spotlight all year, and I am so happy to host this amazing competition for them and put them on a pedestal like they deserve.”

2023 World’s Strongest Firefighter Roster

The most significant change to the event in 2023 is the addition of a Women’s division. 

“Having women in this competition this year is so exciting for me,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “We had a woman named Sarah Reasoner compete in 2019 against the guys in Santa Monica, and she got fifth place out of 12. You could say that Sarah really kickstarted the women’s division into what it is today…I’ve always said that fitness is for everyone, and women deserve the spotlight just as much as men when they’re lifting these monster weights.”

The event features three divisions total: Men’s Middleweight (Under 231 Pounds), Men’s Open, and Women’s. The rosters for each division are below in alphabetical order:

Women’s Division

  • Julianne Durante
  • Kristin Irons
  • Samantha McChesney
  • Julie McGuire
  • Laura Moran
  • Jessica Steiner
  • Wendi Wentzell-Cuc
  • Mariah Serna Valasco

Men’s Open

  • Michael Angelo
  • Jordan Barr
  • Frank Boniello
  • Devin Brady
  • Samuel Broska
  • Scott Brush
  • Andrew Burton
  • Patrick Butler
  • Olivier de Launière
  • Matt DeLaGarza
  • Joshua Dunmire
  • Michael Ebanks
  • Ryan Fincham
  • Nic Fortier
  • Sevin Franck
  • Dal Gains
  • Ben Gallaher
  • Justin Grigg
  • Gabe Gutierrez
  • William Hegedus
  • Andrew Herbert
  • Marc Hernandez
  • Patrick-Michel Houle
  • Péter Juhász
  • Trevor Kohl
  • Guerrero Lopez
  • Adam MacDonnell
  • Corey Makowski
  • Danny Martin
  • Thomas Mason
  • Oliver Mayapis
  • Mike McGowan
  • Cathal McNally
  • Jason Meier
  • Jonathan Michael
  • Parker Moore
  • Andrew Morales
  • Christopher Mount
  • Adrian Mow
  • Idelfonso Nieves
  • Marc-Antoine Provost-Dourekas
  • Justin Ray
  • Chris Rios
  • Oliver Risigarigai
  • Erik Robertson
  • Carlos Lopez Rodriguez
  • Kevin Saddler
  • Luis Sciaqua
  • Brandon Serio
  • Liam Shiels
  • Casey Shoe
  • Grant Shymske
  • Miro Šín
  • John Slivka
  • Rick Smith
  • Henry Spencer
  • Panayiotis Stavropoulos 
  • Cameron St. Amand
  • Matthew Staker
  • Shawn Stewart
  • Joseph Voiles
  • Adam Wagner
  • Harry Walker
  • Christopher Wallace
  • Nathan Warfel
  • Charles Woodford

Men’s Middleweight (Under 105 Kilograms)

  • Michael Anderson
  • Tyler Andrade
  • Thomas Bradley
  • Evan Brown
  • Joe Cavin
  • Keith Cherry
  • Brandon Costin
  • Devin Delvalle
  • Cory Fain
  • Sean Flanagan
  • Benjamin Forrest
  • Pierre Simon Gagnon
  • Jose Garcia
  • Keith Hamilton
  • Zackary Hash
  • Andres Herrera
  • Adam Hetterle
  • Scotty Keyser
  • John Lloyd
  • John Lockwood 
  • Nicholas Melnyk
  • Cody Monger
  • Edwardo Morales
  • Daren Mortenson
  • Tyler Muniz
  • (Jose) Alfred Munoz
  • Edward Mussi
  • Anthony Muzquiz
  • Christopher Northern
  • Ben Pace
  • Joe Paonessa
  • Jan Pipiš
  • Jacob Powell
  • David Rocklage
  • Jack Schiner
  • Tyler Scott
  • Erik Shisslak 
  • Kevin Wallace
  • Logan Wallace
  • Brian Weber
  • Chris Wickiser
  • Peter Wu


The competitors will join the strongmen and strongwomen in the Arnold Amateur events on Friday, March 3rd, to qualify for the finals. The top 12 Men’s Open, top two Men’s Middleweights, and top two Women will move on to the finals on Saturday, March 4th. Four events in the finals blend strongman/strongwoman challenges with implements and factors that coincide with their everyday jobs. 

Axe Hold

Athletes will have to hold an axe in each hand with their arms outstretched laterally and backs against a board for as long as possible. The longest holding time wins. Here’s how the weight of the axes breaks down in each division:

Women: 6.8 kilograms (15 pounds)

U105 Men: 11.3 kilograms (25 pounds)

Open Men: 11.3 kilograms (25 pounds)

Sandbag Carry

Competitors will carry three bags 20 feet around a cone and return to the start. The athlete who completes the task in the best time will win the event.

Women: 79.3, 90.7, 100 kilograms (175, 200, 220 pounds)

U105 and Open Men: 100, 113.7, 136 kilograms (220, 250, 300 pounds)

Fire Hydrant Load

The men and women will load four fire hydrants up onto a 48-inch platform. The winner is the person who can transfer all four hydrants to their platforms without them tipping over in the fastest time. 

Women: 45.3, 56.6, 68, 79.3 kilograms (100, 125, 150, 175 pounds)

U105 and Open Men: 79.3, 90.7, 102.5, 113.7 kilograms (175, 200, 225, 250 pounds)

Ambulance Tire Deadlift

Paying homage to the classic Hummer Tire Deadlift, the contestants will perform a deadlift with ambulance tires on the bar. They will be standing on blocks for a 12″ pull height. The bar will be a power bar with longer sleeves to accommodate the tires, and the most reps will determine the winner.

Women: 167.8 kilograms (370 pounds)

U105 Men: 238 kilograms (525 pounds)

Open Men: 272.1 kilograms (600 pounds)

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How to Watch

“The contest will be broadcast live on the Strongman Corporation YouTube channel,” Schwarzenneger wrote, “and there will be a special link to donate to the amazing firefighter funds that we are supporting with this competition.

The organizations receiving the funds are the Santa Monica Firefighters Relief Fund, the Columbus (Ohio) Firefighter’s Foundation, and the Cal Fire Benevolent Foundation.

Featured image: @asfworldsstrongestfirefighter on Instagram