Achieving Optimal Firefighter Fitness

February 28, 2019

Firefighter’s fitness goals are performance based, because if you cannot safely and effectively perform the physical duties your duties, then you cannot safely and effectively do your job. Fire chief and firefighter sports performance instructor Monte Egherman says to ask yourself, “Is my training helping me gain the strength, power and endurance I need to execute my duties on the fireground in my turnouts?” If the answer is no, then your training is not achieving your goals. To help to achieve optimal firefighter fitness, Monte Egherman created a full-body, functional exercise called the First-Alarm Hose Pull.

Fireground-Specific Training

Athletic coaches know that the best way to train an athlete is to train specific to their sport. Firefighters are occupational athletes, or what Chief Egherman likes to call Public Safety Athletes. So just as sports athletes train for the demands of their sport, firefighters need to train for the demands of their profession. So playing basketball or ultimate Frisbee with your friends as a training modality may physically help you on some level, but won’t necessarily make you a better firefighter.

As sports athletes train for the demands of their sport, firefighters need to train for the demands of their profession

Specificity training is performing actual skills as a training modality. Egherman calls this type of training “fireground-specific” training. Authors of Firefighter Functional Fitness, Dan Kerrigan and Jim Moss, said that “in order to properly prepare yourself for the tasks you perform on the fireground, you must replicate those movements and the fireground intensity during physical training.” There is no better training than replicating movements performed in the field, and that is exactly what the First-Alarm Hose Pull does. This doesn’t mean you should stop playing sports with your friends, but incorporating fireground-specific training is key to making you fit for duty.

First-Alarm Hose Pull

Everything you need to perform the First-Alarm Hose Pull can be found at your fire station. You will need 150 feet of 2 ½ inch hose, your PPE, and SCBA. To set up the exercise, you will need an open field large enough to allow you to run out the full 150 feet of hose. Connect the three lengths of hose together and flake it out in an accordion style. Then don your PPE and SCBA.

Once you’ve set up the exercise, complete the following tasks:

1. Stand in front of the hose and run out the full 150 feet.
2. When you finish, turn and face the direction you came from.
3. Bear crawl to the first coupling.
4. Stand up and perform lunges to the second coupling.
5. Take two steps and perform a squat.
6. Repeat the two-step-squat sequence until you reach the end of the hose.
7. Turn and face the hose.
8. Grab the hose and bring in the full 150 feet hand-over-hand.

Once you master the First-Alarm Hose Pull, you can expand the hose to 200 feet, where you will perform all the same steps and just walk the last 50 feet. From 200 feet you can advance to the 300 feet hose pull. You set up the 300 feet hose pull the same as the First-Alarm Hose Pull and complete steps one and two. Then you will bear crawl 100 feet, lunge 50 feet, perform the step-squat sequence 50 feet, and walk 75 feet. Then you will shoulder the hose and drag it until you are 25 feet past the final coupling. Go to the last coupling and bring it to the end, and then bring in 25 feet of the next section and coupling. This should leave 200 feet of hose in front of you to bring in hand-over-hand moving one foot forward when you get to a coupling. You should finish with 100 feet of hose pulled back and 200 feet of hose in four piles. Only attempt these variations when physically ready. It is a process to get the level of wearing full gear and expanding the hose.

Being fit for duty is the foundation of being a successful firefighter and is dependent on your fireground-specific training. Performing the First-Alarm Hose Pull prepares you for the demands of the fireground, making you a better firefighter.

By Alicia Iwakiri, Grapevine Staff Writer

3 Tips for Peak Performance

Tip #1: Part of functional training it being able to track your progress. You can track you progress in the First-Alarm Hose Pull by measuring how long you can wear your PPE and SCBA and how much hose you can pull.]

Tip #2: If you are performing this exercise alone, take a step at each coupling to create three piles of hose behind you. This will make it easier to deploy on the next run. If you are performing this with your crew, then they can form the accordion fold behind you.

Tip #3: For your first time performing this exercise, it is suggested you only wear your PPE and SCBA for the first pull. As your strength and endurance increase you may wear your gear longer. You may also substitute the PPE for a 50-pound weight vest.]


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