Keeping it Functional and Keeping it Fun
With fireground training or firehouse fitness, it is critical to develop lesson plans or workouts with the goal of making them functional to the service your department provides, while more importantly keeping it entertaining to ensure buy-in from your peers and to maintain a vested interest.
There is nothing worse for training morale than presenting a plethora of slides from a PowerPoint to your crew while they sit uncomfortably in chairs for hours on end. While cognitive training is a necessity for the delivery of certain topics, we also know that it’s not conducive to gaining the attention of those in attendance.
The same concept goes when it comes to promoting health and fitness in the firehouse. Keeping the workout of the day (WOD) both practical and enjoyable will better the odds that the majority will participate and look forward to making fitness an integral part of their shift.
Keeping It Functional: Exercise at any level is sure to benefit the overall health and performance within our job functions. Developing a fitness routine that is functional to our tasks will prove to have a positive impact when operating on the fireground with improvements to our performance longevity while in turn lessening the likelihood of injury.
Keeping It Fun: Creating an element of fun or enjoyment within the foundation of the WOD plays into our natural competitive nature and indirectly forces those involved to push themselves harder towards success and completion during the training.
Gear your training in a manner that personalizes it to your department. Create a WOD named after a Firefighter or piece of apparatus to encourage involvement or make it a challenge where the desire to perform in the best time or most repetitions wins.
For example (see top photo depicting WOD), this particular department responds with an Engine (ENG92INE) as part of their apparatus fleet. The workout created is geared towards representing the apparatus number to personalize it towards those assigned to the piece.
Workout “92” implements a set of functional movements that requires a Firefighter to perform 92 repetitions for each movement in the least amount of time possible. The Firefighter to complete 92 repetitions for each movement in the quickest time could be relieved from toilet duties for the next shift or the Firefighter who finishes in the slowest length of time has to provide dinner for the next tour. Firefighters are inadvertently competitive by nature.
A key element in performing our job in the most effective and efficient manner is to be well skilled and versed while also being in the right condition (physically) to withstand the demands that come with our profession. Developing and implementing a training curriculum rich with a focus on fitness should maintain the same level of effort and enthusiasm as preparing a training curriculum in such fields as vehicle stabilization and rescue techniques.
AB Turenne is a 22-year veteran of the fire service in Eastern Connecticut. As a Certified Level II Fire Service Instructor, AB's training curriculum has proven to be conducive with the operational needs of those he teaches and in turn has improved the human capital knowledge of many. A graduate from the Master of Public Administration program at Anna Maria College, AB has continued his efforts in training and education by contributing to the Fire Engineering Training Community.