As firefighters, how do we take care and prepare ourselves to operate efficiently? We are all constantly working towards bettering ourselves through training, education, working out, and nutrition. The leading cause of firefighter deaths the past few decades has been linked to cardiac issues. Across the country there are a variety of different ways that brothers and sisters strive to better themselves and their bodies. Firefighting is an extremely physical filed that heavily relies on the abilities of a one’s physique.
Some departments have the capabilities to offer their members a full gym that may reflect a high school’s athletic program. This kind of facility may include treadmills, stationary spinning machines, various cable machines, advanced pressing machines, and free weights. Besides actually going to a gym this kind of facility allows members to conduct a variety of various workouts that will benefit themselves and in turn benefit the department while operating. Many of these departments have members that are certified fitness trainers that may assist the rest of the department with developing a workout regiment that will benefit everyone.
There are also departments that have gone on their own to develop their own gym such as the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The membership took one of the small bays in the apparatus garage and reconfigured it with just enough gym equipment to allow members to workout while still staffing the firehouse. Some of the equipment may include cardio equipment, a bench-press, and miscellaneous free weights. This kind of set allows for members to train using weights while depending more on body weight exercises.
There are those departments that cannot afford to or do not have the resources to establish a gym within their firehouse. Some of the members of such departments take it upon themselves to workout in order to better themselves. They use whatever they can find around the firehouse including old tires from the rigs, ladders off the rigs, and even the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that we use everyday. The rig itself may be used to assist with workouts. One workout endorsed by Pip of 555 Fitness is to use the back bumper as a box for step-ups and box jumps. Using the equipment in place of actual free weights allows you to do similar workouts such as the Turkish stand up exercise with the SCBA instead of a kettle bell. Small town departments may also have the possibilities of reaching out to local high school or college and set up an assistance program to allow their members to workout at the gym on campus.
You can always go out on your own and seek professional training at a facility such as LA Fitness, Retro Fitness, or a private trainer. Paramount Fitness founder and owner, Rob Kehoe, developed a daily workout that may be done anytime and anywhere (trainwithparamount.com). Paramount Fitness has one of the leading programs for developing student athletes from the high school level to the collegiate level and beyond. The workout consists of:
- Iso pushups – 10 reps with 3 second iso each rep
- Side plank 30-90 seconds each side
- Single leg squats 10 reps each leg, while standing on the left leg reach down with the right and vice versa
- Towel/Grip pull-ups 8-12 reps. If unable to do pull-ups, jump up and slowly descend down for a slow 5-8 second count for 3 reps
- Squat jumps bodyweight 10 reps maintaining good posture with the shoulders pinched back as you decelerate into each squat.
- Up and down scissor kicks 30 seconds
- Bicycles 30 seconds
- Up-kicks 30 seconds
555 Fitness has a grant program available to all branches of first responders including police, fire, and ems departments that are seeking assistance in establishing a gym. 555 Fitness annually awards three departments the equipment including Brute Force Sandbags, Kettle bells from Kettlebells USA, an Assault Bike, and a squat/ pull-up bar. The nonprofit foundation is self funded and works towards helping to save the lives of the people we depend on when we need help. The foundation will also assist with partnering up with your local gym to help fundraise in order to purchase this kind of life saving equipment. This program supports the first responders in the community by doing fitness with likeminded people. Recently the Mount Laurel Fire Department teamed up with Crossfit Mount Laurel and hosted a team workout that lead to enough being raised to receive the assault bike, kettle bells, and sand bags. The foundation will supply you and your department with literally everything including daily workouts posted on their social media pages. The only element not provided is your self-motivation. “Train hard, Do Work” (555 Fitness).
At the end of the day, your fitness and performance potential is your responsibility. Whether you have a gym, go to a trainer, make your own gym, or go for a run, it’s all up to you. When you’re operating at an incident your physical and mental preparedness will allow you to operate more efficiently. Everyone has their own motivation and potential to succeed. Take the opportunity to better yourself to benefit yourself and your company. Its you versus you. Only you can seize the moment to be better prepared than you were yesterday.