Physical Fitness for Firefighters

Fire fighting is a rigorous job that requires individuals to be in top physical shape. They are often subject to intense workouts through their daily jobs. If you’ve ever had to carry a body that is sleeping or passed out over your shoulder you know that carrying dead weight is much harder than carrying a person that is alert.

Although the programs are often different depending on where you live, all fire fighters are subject to some level of physical aptitude test. These tests aim to determine whether or not a candidate can do the everyday activities they might see on the job. Some common tests that are administered include:

The Stair Climb

How many times will a fire fighter have to climb stairs throughout their careers. Thousands of times and probably tens of thousands of stairs. The tests generally mimic a stair climb by adding a 10-15lb pack on their back. The goal is to replicate a hose that they might be running up and down stairs with. In my opinion this might be the hardest of the tests they make you do.

The Hose Drag

Another very common task is the hose drag. Applicants must drag a hose to a given location. At this location they must mimic hooking the hose up by kneeling for a short period of time. Finally they have to pull the hose back in.

Equipment Carry

The equipment carry is pretty self explanatory. The testee has to haul tools from the truck to the emergency location and back.

Keys to Passing These Tests

These are just some examples of the tasks you will be required to perform in order to become a fire fighter. It’s no wonder that so many fire figthers are ex-athletes who are already in great shape to begin with. Regardless of whether or not you’re an ex-athlete or you’re in terrific shape or not these are some things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Most of the drills are high intensity workouts. You should train the same way, there is no point training as if you’re running a marathon when really you’ll be running a sprint. Obviously endurance training is a great thing, but you need to make sure you also do some high intensity work.

Train both your cardio and your strength. This is super important, often times guys will only weight train or they’ll only work on their cardio. Every single task is a test of stamina and strength. If you can bench 500lbs that’s terrific, but if you can’t run a decent 10 mile you’re going to be in trouble. Remember both aspects are crucial.

Injury Prevention is critical! If you’re injured you’re going to have a heck of a time pulling hose around an obstacle course. Stretching correctly, warming up well and using rehab tools like a grid 2.0 foam roller can do wonders.

Best Energy Boost Smoothies for Firefighters

Smoothies are a great option for a number of reasons when you are on duty. There are a huge amount of ingredients you can combine in them depending on your preferences, they are quick and easy to make, and there are some great ideas for high energy or healthy options to help get you through the shift.

ninja blender reviews smoothiesThe first ingredient is a good smoothie maker and there are some excellent blenders which can produce superior smoothies, even using trickier green ingredients. Ninja blender reviews can cut through nearly anything to make a perfect smoothie in no time, with no fuss involved.

Being a firefighter is a high energy job, so it is important if you want to make a career of it that you take good care of the nutritional side of your diet. Smoothies may be a good way to enjoy a snack or a meal on the go without sacrificing good eating habits.

Boosting Smoothies

Here are some ideas from the Eating Well website. If you are a banana fan, here’s an idea for a slightly spicy banana smoothie which contains 283 calories per serving, just 3g of saturated fat and will be made in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups vanilla kefir (see below)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 eighth tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 eighth tsp ground all spice
  • 12 ice cubes

Kefir is a drinkable yoghurt and is found in the dairy section. It has protein and calcium in healthy amounts as well as probiotics. To make the smoothie, simply combine the ingredients in the blender and give it a spin.

Another suggestion comes in for the green tea fan, to add a little variation to the traditional drink. This one produces 345 calories, 2g of saturated fat and no sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of frozen white grapes
  • 2 baby spinach
  • 1 ½ cups strong green tea (see below)
  • 1 medium-ripened avocado
  • 2 tsp honey

To make strong green tea, use twice the amount of tea or tea bags but don’t leave to steep for too long, around 3 minutes will do otherwise the tea will be bitter. Combine all the ingredients in the blender, give it a good spin, and you are ready to serve.

Here’s one for the tofu fans which contains 288 calories per serving, no saturated fats or sugars.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup of silken tofu

Give the ingredients a good blend, and there’s a smoothie that can give you a real boost without any saturated fat intake.

Breakfast Smoothies

The old saying ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ can still be applied to smoothies. Here’s an example using Greek yoghurt and coconut which has only 189 calories per serving, no saturated fats and only 5g of sugar.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut water (without added sugar)
  • 1 cup non-fat Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup mango chunks (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice concentrate
  • 2 cups ice

Add all the ingredients straight into your blender and give them a good blend until your desired consistency is reached.

Pure coconut water has the added advantage of providing more than 10% of the daily recommended dose of potassium, which is an electrolyte that is lost when a person sweats. This recipe also includes only around 30mg of sodium per cup where a similar amount of a sports drink would be around 110mg.

Start blending!

These are just a few ideas for smoothie recipes to whet your appetite. The ideal thing about smoothies is that you can use almost anything you have in your fridge to combine and make a healthy (or not so much so) nutritious drink.

Why Ex-Athletes Make Great Fire Fighters

Growing up I always knew what I wanted to be; a professional hockey player. My parents joke that I could skate before I could walk and it’s probably true.

One of my first memories as a child was attending a Philadelphia Flyers game. You see, unlike a lot of kids in Philly, I didn’t care much for the Eagles I was/am a fanatical Flyers and Phillies fan. Hockey and baseball, that’s what I grew up playing.

Once it became a choice between hitting home runs and scoring goals I picked scoring goals. I started training in the off-season and eventually found my way up to Canada to play hockey. I played Junior A for several years, in towns most Canadian’s haven’t heard of, Milton Ontario anyone? Didn’t think so. I eventually wound up playing in the WHL for the Red Deer Rebels. Yes Red Deer is the name of a town, it’s actually the third largest in Alberta.

I honestly thought I was going to make the show, I was usually among the best players on my team even at the competitive levels. The problem was, there were 16 million Canadian’s who also thought they were going to make the show at one point or another. The other half? They’re girls hoping to play for Team Canada’s Women’s Olympic team.

Inevitably, chasing the dream stopped. I play briefly in the ECHL before realizing I wasn’t going to make the NHL and trying to start and raise a family in the ECHL just wasn’t going to happen.

Fortunately for me I found my “other” calling – firefighting. There aren’t a lot of jobs out there that are perfect for ex-athletes. Sure, if you attend university and get a degree while playing sports it’s one thing, but to skip university and end up as a 25 year old kid who has done nothing but play hockey his entire life it can be tough.

For the most part, middle class folks like myself just want a job that allows us to live a good life. With the manufacturing jobs drying up across North America we’re left with the trades and public service. (One of my close friends, who also was a hockey player ended up on the police force)

Firefighting is a perfect gig for an ex-athlete. We have a few things going for us. For starters we’ve been working on a team our entire lives. The fire hall is much like the locker room, it’s more then friendship it’s family.

Secondly we have the added bonus of being in shape. If you’re playing sports at a competitive level you’re going to be in better shape than the next guy. I think it was one of the things that helped me get hired. A lot of guys were coming from a trades background – which is also a great route to go, but many of them failed the physicals. Sure they were strong, but you wouldn’t want them trying to carry you out of a burning building.

I’m grateful for the opportunities that playing hockey gave me. Most of all, a rewarding career fighting fires!

Firefighting Equipment & Gear

Firefighters Need Top Gear

helmet-mask-gearThere are several jobs to choose from as a career; some of them earn us personal satisfaction, and some might not be rewarding but offer high paying salaries. There is probably none that can benefit you as much as that of a fireman, especially if you like being considered as a hero. Firemen spend a lot of time saving lives, both humans and animals alike, but have you ever stopped to think about all that equipment that they have to carry around with them?  A lot of thought went into the equipment and uniforms that firemen wear.

Protection Wear

fire-fightingThey certainly can’t be accused of trying to be fashionable, but the turnout pants and jacket that a fireman wears are specifically designed to provide protection against high levels of heat, in addition to being seen during all the chaos. There are several reasons to wear a pair of gloves, whether it is to fight off the cold temperatures or work in the garden, but none will probably protect you as much as the gloves that a fireman wears.

Helmets

A good pair of shoes is important when a fireman enters a burning building, but a helmet is probably just as important. After all, a 2×4 across the head can be just as painful as stepping on a nail or a cut from sharp knife that slipped.

Boots

fire-engineWhen we go looking for a recreational pair of shoes, style, comfort and durability are probably on the top of our list of things to look for. They are certainly not stylish, but when it comes to comfort and durability the boots that firemen wear will stand up with the best of them, not to mention being the right thing to have on your feet if you end up stepping on something hot.

Locking your keys inside your apartment can make for a really bad day, so much so that you will probably need to have a locksmith come out to let you in. Firemen have a few different sharp axes to help them get through those locked doors and windows, because they don’t have the time to simply wait around for someone to open it for them.

turnout-gearEver wondered what a fireman would do if they came across a car door that they couldn’t open because the lock was jammed? Axes would probably break the glass, but the jaws of life would finish saving that individual being pinned inside of the car.

As you can see, firefighters need specialized equipment to not only protect themselves, but to help them protect others in the event of a fire.

How Proper Gun Safety Can Help EMS Response Teams

Fire Safety Perrin

Gun safety, gun control and proper storage of firearms has always been a passionate topic amongst the human population. Many have strong opinions that revolve around harboring a gun in your house, when you should be able to carry a gun, and who should have the right to obtain and use a gun. It is important to have proper gun safe security in your home.

Although there are many laws set in place that are designed with the intention of protecting all individuals, we can still be cautious with how we manage gun ownership and usage. The reoccurring issue tends to be that guns are harmful, dangerous, and can be life threatening when improperly used and stored.

Imagine have a display of hunting guns in your home, which you have chosen to hang above your fireplace. They are locked in a glass case, which is mainly used for decorative purposes. Suppose you have ammo in a cabinet next to your display case. Now, what if you decided to enjoy an evening revolving around your fireplace, and an ember spits out of the fireplace and starts to catch fire to the room you are in. Obviously you will duck, cover, and run out of the room. But what about the guns and ammo that are presently sitting in your house? There is ammo and guns that are in the vicinity of the fire. What happens when the firemen get to your house to extinguish the fire? These are thoughts that should, in some form or another, cross every gun owners mind.

This is why it is vital to have gun storage knowledge, not just for you, but for anyone who may come into your home. The safety and protection of both you and your personal belongings is very important, and not something that should be overlooked.

When browsing for the ideal gun safe, there are some things to keep in mind before you pull the trigger and spend a fortune on one.

1. Electronic safes may not necessarily be the best option. It is recommended to avoid a safe that is required to be plugged into an outlet. This not only is dangerous with a fire, but could potentially be the cause of an electrical fire. Find a safe that has a mechanical lock, such as a bolt or a combination lock.

2. When purchasing a gun safe, make sure it says Fire Retardant, fire proof and gives you a fire rating. A good fire safe should have a rating of 1400 or higher. This should with stand a domestic fire that is about 20-45 minutes.

3. The thickness of the metal of your safe is also a very important feature. It’s one thing if you are storing valuable documents versus storing ammo and guns. The ideal thickness for a safe storing guns and ammo would be 10 gauge or less. It has been tested that 8 gauge would be the ideal thickness for a gun safe.

4. Lastly, where should you locate your safe? From the eye of a fireman, storing a safe next to a fireplace, or an flammable device is highly discouraged. Instead, decide to store your safe in a basement, attic, or a space that has less foot traffic.

By taking the proper precautions for storing and locking your safe that contains your guns and ammo, you can rest assured that you are practicing safety first with your family, friends You will also reduce the problem with firemen, and any other individuals who may enter your home. Always ensure that you have proper gun safe security in your home.

How to get a fire truck license

Due to growing communities and towns the demand for capable individuals licensed to drive fire trucks has been on the rise. In order to provide local communities with the increased demand many county and state legislations have recently underwent changes. The ever changing legislation and requirements are now making what was once thought of as one of the easier fire house jobs has become increasingly difficult.

To obtain a fire truck license many steps must be followed to the letter to ensure completion. The first and most vital step to obtaining a fire truck license is to receive a firefighter endorsement issued by the local fire department. Along with the firefighter endorsement the potential licensee must also have and maintain a class A, class B or class C driver’s license. It is also imperative to provide proof that the individual is currently an employed firefighter and that he/she has received proper training in the operation of fire safety equipment. The most commonly acceptable form of proof is in letter form, but confirmation from the chief of the fire department may be sufficient as well.

Once sufficient proof of employment and equipment training is provided, the fire truck driver training will begin.  Training will begin with a 16-hour in class course where fire truck safety and functionality will be introduced. Completion of the 16 hour course will commence in a 2 hour written examination with a passing score of 80% or higher.

Upon completion of the in class portion of training, field training will begin and consume the remaining training time. Field training begins with vehicle training and equipment use. The licensee must demonstrate complete ability to operate the fire truck as well as all ladders, hoses, lights, rear back axle and emergency removal equipment. After that portion of training has been successfully completed, the licensee will be required to go through rigorous driving lessons while in the fire truck while under strict instructor guidance and supervision. In order to complete the licensing process the licensee must complete another written exam detailing the proper fire truck handling procedures and pass a driving test with no more than 2 errors.

With an increase in population in both cities and rural areas municipalities are left with an increase for capable and well trained fire truck drivers. While it may seem as though there are far too many bureaucratic hoops to jump through than necessary, it is rather the opposite. There are more requirements and an increase in test difficulties to ensure that the most qualified of individuals is behind the wheel of you community’s fire trucks.

A crazy story about fireworks:

Fireworks have always had a magical quality to me and were my favorite events growing up in Heidelberg, Germany. Each summer there is a wonderful display of fireworks done at Castle Heidelberg on the first Saturdays in June and September and the second Saturday in July. There is a very symbolic reason for this amazing display and a little surprise at about the 15 minute mark. At each event there is a “burning” of the castle done in remembrance of each time the castle went up in flames (1689, 1693 and 1764). The first two fires were due to warring with the French and the third time was due to a lightning strike.

The “burning” of the castle and fireworks were a tradition in my family when I was a child. We had never missed a year, no sickness or bad weather could keep us away. The “burning” is what I lived for during summer. Nothing brought the town to life like the excitement of the impending fireworks extravaganza we were going to witness. The sleepy town was awakened by vendors selling beautifully crafted items and eateries tempting everyone with delicious treats. The town would buzz with excitement and so would I.

The summer of 1991 rolled around and naturally that meant the “burning” of Castle Heidelberg and the fireworks, but someone was missing that summer that made our tradition seem less exciting and special. My father was in the US Army and away fighting in Operation Desert Storm. I could not help but feel that we should not go that summer without him, while he was so bravely fighting for our country of origin as well as our freedoms as United States citizens. It was after much conversation, coaxing and a special call from my father all the way in Saudi Arabia to convince me to go and allow myself to enjoy my favorite yearly events.

The first two “burnings” and fireworks events came and went with my family attending as usual. While the display was beautiful, breathtaking and exciting it still lacked the usual excitement for me. “Maybe next year will be better” I would repeat to myself in hopes of keeping a little of the spark alive for the final display in September.

September had arrived and my father still wasn’t home, but I promised him I would go to the “burning” and fireworks. It was a pinky promise, so I took it very seriously. He told me to look up at the moon right before the “burning” began and that at that moment we would be looking at the moon at the same time. At the 15 minute mark I threw my head back to look at the moon only it was not the moon that I was looking up, it was my father’s tanned and war weathered face. He was back and our family tradition was restored to its full glory.

What I got my fire chief for his birthday:

Every year when my fire chief’s birthday rolls around my station mates and I try to come up with a new, hilarious gift for him, this year was no exception. Our motto for his birthdays has always been go big or go home. This year the chief was turning 60 and naturally we felt the need to up the ante a bit.

For our chief’s past birthdays we got him a few little gifts to remind of decent “over the hill”. In years past we have gifted him with silly things like knee socks, magnified reading glasses, hemorrhoid cream in bulk among funny gifts. His reactions only had fuel to the proverbial fire. The more he displayed shock, dismay and laughter the more it made us try harder each subsequent year. The plotting and scheming for the chief’s 60th birthday gift began immediately following his 59th birthday. We wanted the next party and gifts to be unforgettable.

Phase one of our plan was to enlist a dentist to make a pair of dentures. The chief does not wear dentures, but we could not resist and even added a gold tooth or two for good measure. He may be old, but he can still be hip. Along with the dentures we included denture cleaner and a jazzed up denture case.  Once we were able to check the dentures off our list we moved to the other key element of our plan. We thought it only fitting to have a custom made walker created for him. This was not just any old walker with tennis balls on the legs, no sir! The chief’s walker was the BMW of walkers. We installed a temperature regulated cup holder, mp3 player with speakers and a tablet so that he could always be in touch with his buddies at the retirement home.

Phase two of our plan went to party planning. We went back to the old adage of “go big or go home” or in our case “go funny or go home”. We thought it only fitting to dress ourselves in clothing and undergarments that he would soon be donning in the old folks home. The men wore pants pulled up to their armpits, suspenders and black socks with sandals. The women wore huge tent dresses with house slippers and adult diapers underneath to provide a bit of extra fullness in the lower region. Many of us wore fake hearing aids and coke bottle glasses. There was also the distinct odor of moth balls and butterscotch candy in the air. It was hilarious to say the least.

Our chief found our gift and party for him to be the funniest and most thoughtful thing ever, in other words mission accomplished. He is a very special guy and although it may seem an odd way to show our appreciation for him, it really was perfect. I cannot imagine how we will top his 60th birthday, but we are already planning for the next one.

What’s it like to live in a firehouse?

Living in a firehouse is an interesting combination of excitement, monotony and pranking. Day to day life in the station is full of equal parts work, rest and most importantly finding some sort of mischief to make on our down time.  Firehouse living does initially take some adjustment, but once you get used to spending your shifts with your co-workers and the possibility of an emergency situation always looming it will become like a home away from home.

It is both exciting and nerve wracking when the alarm for fire rescue sounds. It can occur at any time of day or night without any warning. We are expected to be geared up and ready with 5 minutes of the alarming going off regardless of being asleep, in the shower, washing your face, or cooking dinner for all of our station mates. One plus to the need for immediate and swift action is that we do not have much time to focus on the dangerous situation that we are heading into.

Everyday life in the firehouse can be very monotonous. Most days are filled with the same routine with very little variation. Getting up in the morning and going about your daily duties is about how every shift goes. Most days consists of cleaning, cooking, daily hygiene, performing house, vehicle and equipment maintenance and practicing our fire rescue skills. We do not wish an emergency situation on anyone, but are eager and ready to assist when we get the call.

With the daily grind comes a need to mix things up and let loose, especially if you’re a radio operator and you’ve been on the radio all day! There is a good amount of down time during our shifts leaving a lot of time to play practical jokes on each other, our fire chief and even the station’s four legged resident. The shenanigans range from little pranks such as hiding one another’s clothing to replacing the sugar with salt. There have been instances where an extra layer of grease applied to the fire pole during practice drills for a little extra zip to the slide down. In our firehouse we have very slippery linoleum floors that provide much entertainment as well. We would often have sliding races in our socks and occasionally wax the floor for a little extra slippage. As I am sure you can image was quite a surprise fir unsuspecting prank victim.

I enjoy my job immensely up to and including the monotonous times, the exciting times and the times where we completely let loose playing practical jokes on each other left and right. We have a great firehouse full of dedicated team mates that make the long shifts and scary job hazards tolerable and worth every second. Living in a firehouse can seem less than ideal from the outside, but for myself and station mates it is a second home.