In the fire service we spend untold hours washing our trucks. We go check every compartment everyday make sure all of our tools are ready to go at a moments notice. We spend hours going over policies and procedures. We train on the newest EMS practices. We learn new technologies that help us do our jobs better. We will pre plan emergencies that have a very slim chance of ever happening like a plan crashing into a school. All of these are important but it’s amazing that we don’t spend 1% of our time and money on training physical fitness.
We have a huge line item on our budget for equipment repair and purchasing but just attempt get a $2,000 treadmill! It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars when we get hurt with workmanship comp payments and overtime coverage and insurance payments but we won’t spend an hour a day on injury prevention. This has to change and I think it should start today.
We need special focused training. We are professional athletes and we need to act like it. Our fitness needs to relate to the work we do. It needs to involve things like breathing control so we don’t run out of air. It needs to focus on core strength to help guard against the sprains and strains. We need to operate at extreme levels for 20-30 min intervals. We have a few challenges that regular athletes don’t have to deal with. We can’t get prepared for a specific event at a specific time. We have to be ready for the unknown. We also can’t just bulk up like a body builder because we need flexibility to crawl and to push through tight places. We also can’t train like someone who is preparing to run a marathon because pure cardio is not enough. We have to have the muscular strength to do hard work like overhaul or picking up a victim and we have to do all this while wearing an extra 50 pounds and being super heated with all of our senses on overdrive due to the huge amount of adrenaline that dumped into our bodies.
So what does a training plan look like?
1. It’s preformed with little to Fire extinguishers.
2. It is a full body work out that hits all the key areas such as arms,back,legs,core
3. It is east to implement with a large number of participants.
4. It is sets up goals and has a plan for steady progression.
5. It is scalable
6. It is fun and variable so the participants don’t get bored.
If you can find a program that can meet all of these requirements you will have gone a long way towards improving the lives of your fellow fighters. This is not an easy change for most departments but it is something that has to happen. 50% of all firefighter fatalities are caused by sudden cardiac arrest due to work load stress. You can chose to do nothing and there is a chance nothing bad will happen or you can chose to be practice and save the life of one of your brothers or sisters.