Introduction to Firefighter Fitness
The fitness section of the site is dedicated to providing help and information for both serving firefighters, those interested in becoming firefighters or for anyone wanting to improve their overall health, fitness and wellbeing.
The content of the fitness section is complemented by our very own fitness training handbook, ‘How to Become Firefighter Fit’ with over 80 pages of exercises that you can do at home. Even if you are not a firefighter then this book and indeed this section of the website will be of great benefit to you.
If you are interested in becoming a firefighter, then the information will be invaluable in helping you reach the required standard to pass the practical elements of the selection tests.
There are hundreds of ways to improve fitness and lose weight, but the aim is to provide quality information that is proven to get the results people want in the quickest time. We believe this fitness section has all the information you will need to get you on the road to being fit, giving an insight into how the body works, and the best ways to exercise, plus much, much more. We also have many products listed within the store section of the site which will assist you in achieving your goals.
Why do firefighters need to be fit?
A firefighters role is extremely physical and involves working in a vast array of situations and environments including:
- Hot and humid atmospheres
- Dark and confined spaces
- Oxygen deficient atmospheres
- Prolonged periods of physical activity
- Working long hours during the night.
Tasks that firefighters carry out at incidents can be very physical and include:
- Running out lines of hose
- Climbing stairs of high rise buildings
- Pitching heavy ladders
- Hauling equipment up the outside of tall building using ropes
- Searching a smoke filled building for persons missing in full firefighting clothing and breathing apparatus
- Using breaking in tools to effect entry through security doors
- Carrying unconscious persons rescued from property fires
- Handling heavy hydraulic cutting equipment at road traffic collisions
- Working in confined spaces such as roof voids or tunnels
- Wearing hot and humid chemical protection suits
- Extinguish acres of grassland fires with hand beaters
- Working for long durations during flooding incidents.
A typical house fire during the night is likely to involve a large physical and mental effort. Firstly, the human body is programmed to sleep during the hours of darkness and be active during the day; this results in tiredness not experienced by people working normal hours. En-route to the incident, the firefighter is mentally preparing themselves to enter a house that is on fire, whilst donning the firefighting protective clothing and breathing apparatus set that will protect them.
On arrival, the firefighting hose reel has to be dragged from its storage unit ready for deployment before a forced entry via the front door has to be made using breaking in tools.
Once inside, with extremes of temperature and humidity, a search is undertaken for both the fire and any missing persons. Not only is the firefighter now crawling around in pitch darkness carrying out a detailed search, they are dragging a hose line with them and other equipment such as thermal imaging equipment. At this point, a firefighters flexibility and endurance are tested as they negotiate obstacles and tight spaces whilst trying to conserve air. Once water is applied to a fire, the temperature rises further still as steam is produced which can worsen the conditions inside which in turn makes searching more difficult.
Once any missing person is found, the firefighter then calls upon their muscular strength to carry the person from the building who can sometimes be heavier than they are themselves. A firefighter needs to be physically strong, flexible and have muscular endurance to work effectively. Fitness is also important to combat fatigue.
In a typical night shift, a firefighter may attend numerous fires and needs to be able to cope with tiredness on a regular basis. The working conditions can also be stressful and test not only the physical ability of firefighters, but also their mental strength, so it is vitally important that firefighters are fit for duty and may even make the difference between life and death.
Benefits of being fit
There are many benefits to being fit and healthy, which ultimately lead to a much better quality of life and well-being. Training and exercise should be part of your routine and should not be regarded as a chore or something to avoid. There are many reasons why you should put that TV remote down and get up from the sofa, here are just a few.
Although it may seem hard to believe for novice exercisers, the main reason for participation in sport and exercise programmes is enjoyment. Although there may be little initial enjoyment for a person exercising, for a previously inactive or sedentary body, physical activity should become increasingly enjoyable and rewarding as the level of fitness improves. Exercise also releases chemicals in the body which make us feel good and the feeling of accomplishment after a hard training session is a sense of elation. It is also great to see you results improving over time, whether it be the amount of weight you are losing or seeing your times for distance running slowly coming down. This will then spur you on to continue.
People today are becoming much more aware of the benefits of health related exercise as means of protection against illness, e.g. heart disease, hypertension and stress-related diseases. They may decide themselves to embark on an active exercise programme as part of their quest for a healthier lifestyle or they are strongly recommended to do so by their doctor or specialist, following medical examination or illness. People who exercise regularly also experience less stress, are more relaxed and sleep better so this in itself is one of the biggest benefits to regular exercise.
Appearance and Weight Control
A large proportion of those joining health clubs or attending exercise sessions are aiming to improve their appearance by improving their body composition, general muscle tone and posture. By exercising regularly, you can improve your appearance by maintaining a healthy weight and more toned physique, which then leads to greater self-confidence.
By joining a gym or fitness class, you will meet like-minded people who enjoy the social side of health and fitness as most clubs now have areas for relaxation such as bars and restaurants, which you can use to socialise. People who exercise together also tend to motivate each other without realising it. You may not feel like exercising on some days but with the help and support of your new group of friends, you are more likely to make the effort and go. Groups of people who exercise together usually try to compete against each other, which is a good form of motivation.
After an illness or injury, exercise can speed up the repairing process and aid a quicker recovery.
Being fit will have a positive impact of all aspects of your day-to-day life. Not only will you feel better in yourself, sleep better, be less stressed and be healthier, you will also find the grind of daily life less of an effort. Simple tasks such as walking up the stairs or carrying the shopping bags from the boot of your car will become easier as your muscles become stronger and you fitness improves. Parents with young children can enjoy a game of football in the park without feeling sick, tying your shoelaces does not lead to a bad back or running 100 metres for a bus does not feel like a marathon.
There are many other reasons why exercise is a good thing but the ones given may lead you on to start exercising if you do not already. Being fit and healthy can lead to a person doing things they never thought possible and life is too short not to get the most from it.