When you’re young and you decide that one day you want to become a fireman , it seems almost like a dream. It’s right there with all the wanna be astronauts, jet pilots, police officers,doctors etc…… I had the opportunity to apply for the job at 25 years old. I say opportunity because the city had to actually be hiring. Once you fill out the application then the long wait begins. How long? Well, it varies. For me and the rest of the recruit class it was a long 5 years before they actually put us on the job. But before this we had to pass a written and physical test that takes place within a year after your application is submitted. First you take the written test and out of something like 600 applicants only 176 moved on to the physical portion of the testing process. Then there is a lull. Those who did well on the written and moved on spend this time getting in the best shape that they can be in. Preparing for the hardest 2 minutes of their lives.
I trained regularly to maintain some decent strength but emphasized cardio fitness because of the nature of the physical fitness test that they administer. The test is an obstacle course. You move through the course wearing a weight vest and perform various tasks. Anyone who gets around the 2 minute mark has a good time.My preparation was to wear my own weight vest and run the bleachers at the local high school track. I worked out at the gym as well. I used a stair climber at the gym because there is a portion of the test that requires you to climb 10 flights of stairs wearing the 40 lb weight vets while also carrying a pack that is long and awkward. The pack adds on another 50 lb.
I was younger and less experienced with fitness training and didn’t take advantage of the weights like I should have. I thought I was going to “get bulky and slow down”. I did light squats once a week and mostly incline bench press.
The day of the physical is was cold as shit out and I showed up very early and started to warm up. I watched as other candidates took their marks and went through the gauntlet. I remember this one guy was wearing a hat. No one asked him to take it off, it wasn’t bothering anybody. But right in the middle of the course (this guy was flying too) he knocked his hat off. He actually stopped, turned around and went back to get it! The monitor who was timing him was yelling “forget the hat!” over and over. This guy insisted he go back for it and not only that but put it back on and adjusted it accordingly!! I was like WTF is this dude doing.
Then I remember there was this guy that was jacked to high heaven . He was muscular in a way that I was envious of. I was gonna go ask him what his routine and diet looked like because that was when I started to really get more serious about fitness . But after I saw him fail miserably on the 10 flights of stairs ( as in he quit right in the middle and feel to his knees) I said “I aint askin him shit.” I saw him out front later when I was leaving, EMT were giving him oxygen!
Then I remember a guy who went right before me. He went through the course like lightning and when he got to the end guys were calling him a superstar. He collapsed to his knees too. Then he started puking in a garbage can. He pretty much had the fastest time in the whole field. He is on the job today.
When I saw him go I said “Thats the guy I wanna be like!” He was n’t jacked at all but he was thin and in good shape.
I ran like the wind and came in just a few seconds behind that guy and we both wound up in recruit class together.
5 years in limbo
People ask me what did I do for those 5 years not knowing if I will ever even get the job? My answer was always the same. “kept living my life, staying fit and out of trouble”.
All in all no one knew it would take 5 years so to me it always felt like any day now. By the time I did get hired I had learned more about fitness and was weightlifting regularly. I managed to bulk up a little and still maintain good cardio conditioning. I learned to eat healthier as well. I developed good habits over these years that have now served as a strong foundation to my career. This job demands physical performance. You want to be able to function well during a fire and after. You want to be able to wake up the next day and feel good and not suffer from any injuries due to weakness and lack of mobility.
If you are thinking of getting into the fire service consider what I am telling you. Stay fit because it will set the tone for your career and your life.
A Brief History Of Life Hardcore (lifehardcore.wordpress.com)