Before going to the toolbox make sure your ready and fit. Firefighting and exercise the occupational athlete.

Firefighters have a close relationship with their tools. We carry all types of different hand tools and power tools like chain saws. We depend on them in order to help us perform our jobs. I wrote a post about how much a firefighters gear weighs and the importance of keeping in good shape in order to haul all that gear around and be able to work. You can see that post here. As a continuation of that post I decided to expand on this topic further.

English: A married Halligan bar and flat-head axe.

English: A married Halligan bar and flat-head axe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you look at the top left of the page you will see what looks like a skull and crossbones. But if you look closer you will see that those aren’t crossbones but actually an axe and halligan bar. Those are some primary hand tools that we carry with us everywhere. Like I already said, these tool are vital to us so we can get the job done. But they  are not the most important ones at our disposal. Not even the hose that puts the wet stuff on the red stuff is! In fact, their aint a tool worth a shit as important as the two tools that we were born with. Our minds and our bodies.

Firemen On The Roof

Firemen On The Roof (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

No matter your profession or your hobbies at some point we all need to use a tool of some type. Everyone is taught to keep their tools clean and in a safe location and to take good care of them But what about our bodies? How are you going to swing a hammer if your body is all destroyed from misuse and improper care? Tools are just mere extensions of our bodies. You have to physically be able to handle tools in order to use them safely.

English: Toronto firefighter wearing a self-co...

English: Toronto firefighter wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Lots of Toronto firemen play hockey to stay in shape.

Their is a common saying in the fire service that goes “firefighting is a young mans job”. Guess who is always saying it? If you said the older guys you are correct. I’m not knocking these guys at all. In fact they couldn’t be more right. Years of fighting fires will chew you up. It’s the nature of the beast. Most guys will most definitely sustain an injury that will nag them throughout their careers. Some common injuries are back and shoulder and even healthy guys that work out fall victim to these injuries. Why? Because its hard to stay limber and stretched throughout your whole shift. When the demand to go to work calls we don’t get an opportunity to warm up. Could you imagine seeing a house on fire with someone hanging out a window with smoke billowing out around their heads. A fire truck pulls up and a bunch of firefighters jump out and start doing stretches!?!  Usually it will be at 3am after working all day and night and our bodies are just starting to stiffen up. You can’t fight nature.

You can’t fight nature but you can try your best to stay one step ahead. SO taking care of my body is my utmost priority. I have a nagging should injury so I keep up on it. I try to keep it warm and stretched out and if I have to raise ladders at a fire I now watch my form more closely. Guys with back problems keep their back muscles strong and in hypertrophy and maintain proper weight to assure their spines are not overloaded. So on and so forth.

Thanks to chainsaws we can zip through a roof fast. But sometimes the chainsaw breaks and you have to use you axe and your brawn.

No longer true is the mental picture of firefighters sitting around doing nothing just waiting for the bell. Nowadays with all of the information out there and a constant push for physical and mental fitness, the firehouse is fast becoming the best gym in town. Training Division is now a hub for functional fitness. Drills are designed to give a firefighter the physical strength and endurance to complete their missions safely so they can save a life and keep their own lives out of danger.

Being fit is essential when dragging a victim to safety is a job requirement.

A rock solid exercise program is essential for those that rely on their bodies for a living. This is an old concept but it was once only considered for athletes not for working class people. Knowing that game after game they will need to perform at peak levels and sometimes extreme levels the athlete will spend countless hours training and nurturing their bodies. They have had access to all the cutting edge technologies and studies that help develop a strong functional athlete They will dedicate themselves to the task of creating great physical strength and speed because failure on the playing field is not acceptable. This concept is just as true for the fire service or the military or any first responders except, failure isn’t about losing a championship, it’s about losing lives.

This house is half consumed with fire. There is a ton of work to do. Firefighters can go from zero to sixty in a moments notice.Working with ice on the ground just makes things more strenuous.

In order to make sure that I can still swing an axe with an air pack on my back when I am older and at the end of my career I have chosen a healthy lifestyle. If it should be that someone is depending on me inside that house or inside that wrecked car I do not want to let them down. I also know that I have a family waiting for me at home and that I need to go home safely to see them. The guys I work with feel the same way and we all look at life from a unique perspective. We know that in a job where we help others we have to also help ourselves. We still make sure that our hand tools and power tools are properly cared for but we have made a choice to also take care of the most important tool in the toolbox….our bodies.

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