Tips to Successfully Perform Essential Functions of the Job
The multiple stress factors and rigors of the profession require firefighters to be medically and physically fit in order to perform the required tasks. Fire suppression can be a long, vigorous, physically exhausting process for a firefighter where he/she will be in a constant aerobic state for hours until the fire is extinguished. Firefighters must also be physically prepared to perform forcible entry where they are tasked with breaking down a door by repeatedly striking the door with a 40 pound axe continuously at 90% of max heart rate for 2 minutes. This anaerobic state requires a different type of fitness training and cannot be excluded when preparing for the fire service. A good guide is to incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic exercise in to your weekly training habits.
Remember: Before engaging in any type of physical activity get a medical physical by your physician clearing you to work out and prepare for the fire service. The FITT Principle will provide a basic overview to working out. The plan is not individualized for specific strengths and weaknesses you may possess. A specific individualized plan set-up through a certified professional is always the best approach.
Each exercise session should consist of a warm up and cool down. These are important periods of low intensity exercise that allow the body to adjust as you go from rest to exercise and exercise to rest. Stretching as part of your warm up helps prevent injuries and helps improve muscle efficiency. The muscles should be warm before they are stretched. A 2-3 minute walk on the treadmill should be sufficient. Stretch the large muscle groups that will be worked during the exercise. For a treadmill workout, these will include the front and back of your thigh (quads and hamstrings), the gluteals, and the calves. Stretching after the cool-down while the muscles are still warm or after a warm shower will reduce the chance or degree of muscle tightness and soreness, as well as benefit your flexibility to assist in preventing injury.