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Category Archives: Fitness

Dont they know Firemen are a little crazy?

You will get strange looks, but they benefit from your dedication.

When putting together a training regimen what do you look for? The Internet has a plethora of quality resources ranging from all out strength, weight loss and conditioning. A novice to a world full of “perfect” and “latest and greatest” it can be very overwhelming. Years ago when I made the turn and decided to get in shape, almost everyday my goals changed. Every article that touted the best movement for strength and size or nutrition plan that gave the best results, I took in and lived by. That would last about a day till the next article was posted.

With any program you have to allow time. Usually 6-8 weeks of a program will allow you to see the results. Of course you must follow the program as prescribed. This type of model is typically weight loss or strength/size based. The model a Firefighter must follow to excel on the fire ground is much different.
Everyday more and more fire service members are being turned on to the Crossfit methodology. If you need more info on Crossfit check out their website. Personally I started doing Crossfit-esque training sessions a few years ago. To increase my work ability, after my strength session, I would perform X-amount of push ups, then 1 min of kettle bell swings, followed by pull ups then a 400m sprint. This would be ran in 3-4 rounds. After several sessions I started to see my endurance would be extended. Whereas the first sessions I would need a break in between rounds I was not taking breaks and getting through to the next round.
This training was monumental when it came training for the combat challenge. If only strength is sought for the FFCC, your time will reflect it. Once my work capacity improved, without losing strength, my time improved.
Firefighters must be Built to Last. When the alarm goes out you have no way to know how long you will have to work. We don’t get to take a breather after a critical task. It may be dragging hose to throwing ladders, if must be done with minimum effort for maximum gain and with the stamina to move on to the next task. One of the ways to build this resiliency is designing a program that mimics the fire ground.
Dynamic training sessions allow for total conditioning. A Dynamic session could look like this: 60 seconds of kettle bell Snatches, 60 seconds Dead lifts, 60 seconds of kettle bell swings, 60 seconds of box step ups and 60 seconds of “Ceiling Breach”( see Episode 5 for this) . This would be performed 3-5 times, each completion of all movements equals a round.
For the first few attempts no gear. Once a baseline has been established slowly add a pack, then turnouts and finally attempt on air. After time you will see your fireground abilites improve.

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Looking at annual Line of Duty Death statistics, anyone can easily see that cardiac arrest is a Firefighters foe. In fact, heart attack is at least 50% of the reason why we lose so many brothers and sisters each year. We can all agree that improving our health, getting annual medical physicals and exercising are the right things to do. However, I have two questions. First how many of us are working out regularly and to the intensity of the fire ground, getting physicals and eating the way we should? Second, are you wearing the right personal protective equipment, wearing it properly and until determined safe to remove?

Your personal health, fitness and safety starts with you. Emergency Services is a physically demanding and intense field. In our down time, we should be doing everything within our power to prepare ourselves. Whether it is physical fitness or reading a textbook, our main task is preparation. Everyday has unknowns, when will the call come, what will it be for and could lives be on the line. Honestly, that is why most of us chose this profession. No matter if your career or volunteer, you still have the duty to perform how you are expected, you must be ready to respond. The actions you take start with how your body reacts to the moment. At this time, I could point out the obvious, heart attack. Let’s save that for another day and use our time to discuss our wellness.

Our bodies well being is the every day maintenance of our mental and physical soundness. Good nutrition, exercise, mobility and good sleep habits all play vital roles in our well-being. To ensure that we maintain a precise level, we must see a doctor on a regular basis. The trend of Firefighter Heart Attacks, sometimes over shadows why we need to ensure we have physicals each year or more. It is not just about our tickers, our whole body is priority. The human body is a very complex system and we must maintain it with rigor. If one part of our system is not functioning properly, other systems must compensate for it. When you have regular physicals, your doctor can trend these findings and make sure that it is corrected or at least ensure it does not get worse. Could some of the annual LODD reports be attributed to underlying issues that could have been found well before the heart attack occurred? Personal responsibility and accountability must be enhanced throughout the fire service to prevent line of duty death. We choose to be firefighters, so choose to continue to be one for a long time, by taking responsibility for your health and well-being.

What prompted me to write this today is the health struggle that I am having. Let us just say my plumbing system is on the fritz. My body is in no condition to be in all my gear, breathing air and pulling hose. If I responded today, I would be a liability to all on the fire ground. Having the COURAGE to say, “I am not fit to fight” is hard to do, when the Fire Service is your life. The statement had to be made, for myself, for friends, for the brotherhood and most importantly my family. Please have the courage to see your doctor, get that physical each year and if you are not fit to fight, HAVE THE COURAGE to speak up!

Now on to the second question I posed about PPE. Their really is not much to say about this one. They buy, we wear it. We must be accountable for ensuring the protective equipment, the department sometimes struggles to purchase for us, is worn as required. Wear your hoods, wear your gloves, wear eye protection and breathe your air. Over the past few years, several studies have looked at the effects of toxic gases in smoke and the damage it inflicts on our bodies. Evidence has even shown that certain toxins can be absorbed through our turn out gear. Simply ensuring your gear is washed can help reduce the chances of illness. You should also think about what get absorbed into your skin that you might take home. If you wear gear that was not washed after the last fire on your next medical run, are you exposing yourself and the patient? What about your family after the call or at the end of shift? Take a shower before going home or do not interact with family members until you shower and put your dirty clothes aside. Our PPE is not a protective force field it has limitations. Think about every line of duty death reported due to illness. How many more lose their lives from Cancer? Smoke and off gases are hazardous materials, treat them as such. Always decontaminate yourself, your equipment and your personal protective equipment. Save a life today by wearing your gear; breathing your air then get it all washed. Do not expose yourself and do not take that crap home to your families.

The bottom line, go see your doctor as soon as possible for a physical. Eat whole foods; fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and lean meats. Exercise daily; based on your performance requirements and under doctors advice. Get enough sleep. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after the call. Use the equipment provided for you. Know when you are not fit for the fight and speak up about it.

This week’s post is a weblink to my YOUTUBE Channel. Over the weekend I presented the first full pilot of SPEED SMOKE STRESS: Is Killing American Firefighters. Please stop by and take a look. It is just a glimpse, I can’t give to much away. My goal is to have a version of this course on the docket for FDIC 2013. WIth the support of this training community, I believe this will happen.

Once I started to post my thoughts and ideas on the video channel, firefighterco22 on, I started to neglect this resource. Well this morning I came up with a workout to start getting prepared for the Combat Challenge.

PUSH: 4 rounds 4 movements @ 8 reps
Round 1: The first round is not timed.
Perform 8 Kettlebell Snatches with a small to moderate weight (I suggest 25 or 35)
Perform 8 Pull ups
Perform 8 Deadlift (65 – 85lbs)
Perform 8 Plate Rows (45lbs see ENGINECO22.NET Episode 2 for this)
Adjust up or down based on how that felt. Use good clean form on all movements.

Now Round 2,3, 4:
Perform same reps and movements, using adjust weight if this was needed. Start the clock, perform the this round  all out and get the time. Log it then REST FOR THIS AMOUNT OF TIME. If you complete round 2 in 1:45 then you rest for 1:45. When the rest period is over start round 3, log the time that it takes to complete, once again rest that time. Complete round 4.

After completing all rounds keep your best time. This is the time to beat. If you felt the weight was too heavy, don’t change it now, just try to decrease your time. If you need to increase the weight add 5lbs.

After 3-4 sessions of performing this add gear, then SCBA and so on. Your trying to stay at or below your target time.

Give it a go! If you have questions stand by, as I see a video post coming soo regarding this. Post you thoughts and feelings understand this post.

As always – See you on the training ground, and we’ll see you on the fireground.

Check out the FIREFIGHTERCO22 YOU TUBE Channel! I’ve uploaded some simple videos about Firefighter Training and Fitness.

The last 6 days I have taken a “back to basics” approach to my fitness. Taking a cue from Chris over at FSW, after a minor tweak, I’ve simplified my training to get my overall conditoning back up to speed. Over the last year I’ve had ongoing medical issues. Serious enough to lose some strength and stamina but not serious enough to put me down and out.

I had yet another test last week which was negative, it’s good becuase there was nothing wrong, but bad that we can’t figure out what’s wrong. So back to fitness. I’ve been doing nothing but PUSH UPS, PULL UP , AIR SQUATS and JUMPING ROPE. Max reps or time over 6 sets. DAMN I FEEL GASSED by the end!

Every once in a while take a step back, recharge and get going again. Sometimes we must take 2 steps back to move 1 step a-head!

Thanks for reading


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