Mandatory Annual Physical Fitness Test
Are there any departments out there currently using an annual mandatory fitness test. My department currently has an entrance physical agility test, but after that nothing mandatory. We have yearly fitness evaluations but nothing comes from it, and a mandatory hour of excercise per shift that a small minority of us observe. I would like to see a mandatory yearly agility test. The United States Armed Forces have to maintain a certain level of fitness or suffer conciquences, even in the Guard and Reserve ranks. Why not the fire service. We all know that heart and lung problems kill us much more frequently then burning buildings falling on us. I just want to help save some lives of my brothers and know that the guy next to me can get me out of a burning basement. Anyone out there that feels the same? Again I'm looking for any department that currently had a annual test and how the program works for you. Thanks.
Sioux City Fire Rescue
FDNY Annual Medical - post by Captain Mike Stefano
The FDNY requires firefighters to pass an annual medical exam that includes a 5 minute step test. You're right, there should be some basic standard that we all have to pass.
Unfortunately, you'll get major arguments on both side (labor and management). The bottom line is always money, but firefighters need support if expected to live up to standards, not just a discount at the local gym.
If any department / municipalities or individual firefighters expect to make a difference, there's needs to be a guided approach, along with gradual standards applied. Forget bodybuilding and long distance running techniques (but this is mostly what happens if firefighters are left to train on their own) and concentrate on real training, more of what's done at most academies (boot camp style), but in a gym setting.
Longer, harder, full body "sets" done with low resistance --never isolating muscles or muscle groups, always integrating the whole body. Kettlebell training and my STS training, combined with the right type of cardio and some task-specific work, can really make a difference in how you, the average firefighter, will react under extreme stress (as experienced at most structural fires).
Think about how we operate, really hard for about 5 to 15 minutes. Sometimes it's longer and more drawn out, but initially, an extreme and quick effort is usually required. All this occurs while under load.
Doing a set of bench presses in gym shorts for 30 seconds lying on your back is not enough. I invite you all to learn a new way to train...
When you signed up for this job
When one signs up to do this job, I hope that he/she understood that their commitment was not a one-time decision, but one that goes beyond agreeing to show up to work every shift and into the relm of constantly challenging oneself...to show up READY for ones shift.
There are three types of people in our line of work...Those who are passionate, those who can be inspired and those who are just here.
I challenge myself every day to continue to be passionate in all the areas that the job demands: training, mental and physical fitness just to name a few; AND THEN inspire those who aren't.
With that said, I have similar concerns about my brothers not being able to go the distance. The immediate benefit of being physically fit allows us to do our job more safely and efficiently...the long term benefit allows us to stay on the job longer and live healthier after we leave.
For many of us, when it comes to physical fitness, change hardly ever occurs until the pain of changing becomes less than the pain of remaining the same. I have seen guys never get serious about what they eat and how they work out UNTIL after they wound up in the hospital recovering from a heart attack or had to medically retire because they had the doctor refuse to release them back to work.
I believe that the bottom line is what I wrote on the top line. Firefighters MUST buy into the belief that this job takes an ONGOING committment to ensure that you are operating at his/her best. It isn't enough to be in shape to pass the entrance exam...after you pass it is ONLY when your job starts...
FIREFIGHERS SHOULD STAY in shape to STAY in this job. Fire departments should find a way to hire those individuals who have adopted this philosophy.
Departments that don't require a test of ones physical abilities are only decreasing their effectiveness and safety and probably increasing their insurance premiums. It's cliche, but a team is only as strong/fast as it's weakest/slowest member.
Firefighters who don't buy into the continued committment on their part are hurting themselves and their crew/department.
The answer to your situation is FIRE DEPARTMENTS WHO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ONGOING CHALLENGE AND FIREFIGHTERS WHO ARE WILLING TO ACCEPT IT. If you find yourself in a situation where this isn't the case, then all you can do is what YOU can do: Let your example be an inspiration...and hope that you never get stuck in the basement with the other firefighter who didn't accept that challenge.
Stay STRONG, stay safe.
Mandatory physical agility testing
Be careful what you wish for, as a 30 yr veteran I have been on both sides, our department has a bi-annual madatory agility test that has to be passed or the warning and write ups begin, if you are planning a long stay in this business, as you get older it gets harder. I do my job every third day from ems to any type of fire but when you do the test all together with no stopping it will get you. The test consist of being in turn out gear except for mask and hood, pick up a rolled 3" hose take it 4 stories up and then down, next station 20' extension ladder raise it hand over hand till it hits then bring it down the same, 3rd station take a dry 1.75 hose by nozzle drag it 25' go around a barral anothe 15' fall to one knee and pull, 4th station pick up a 3" hose rolled and walk a 20' ladder that is flat on the ground walking the rails down and back with out falling off, 5th stationwalk up to the 3rd floor drill tower pull a 40 lb bag hand over hand to you and then back down, 6th station picl up a 185 lb dummy and drag it 50 yards no stopping, 7th station take a 10 lb sledge hammer and move a sled from one end the the other allowed 22 strikes, 8th station pick up an exhaust fan and take 25 yards test done and we do this every April and October so again becareful what you wish for