Can YOU take the Heat?
4) Stay Fit for Duty
An old standby: stay in shape. Basically, your aerobic fitness increases your endurance, which gives you more time before your body’s natural cooling becomes ineffective. This goes hand in hand with tip 1; you MUST exercise. Don’t count on firefighting to be your primary workout, there are too many overweight firefighters for that to be a legitimate approach. You don’t have to join an expensive gym or anything, you just need to get outside and run. Stew Smith has some great articles on firelink if you need some ideas or variety.
5) Dress for the Occasion
Simply by replacing regular duty pants and shirts with shorts and a light cotton T-shirt for “under the gear” clothing, you’ll increase your endurance and resistance to heat stress by 10-15%. That’s pretty good for not having to do anything special. Here’s what I do: wear a pair of gym shorts under your pants, you’ll be able to have your pants off in little more time than it takes to take off your shoes, and you’ll be so much more comfortable in your bunker gear. Believe me, it’s worth it. Don’t get caught up in this one, though. The benefits of wearing shorts vs. pants are miniscule compared to being acclimated to high heat, being in superb shape, and being hydrated.
I plan on having a long career in the fire service, and I’ll bet you do to. Don’t shorten it by abusing your body. We’ve got to take care of ourselves first, if we don’t, we’ll never be able to take care of others.
Take Stew Smith’s Firefighter Fitness Quiz
Improve your training with FireLink’s 13-Step Firefighter Workout
Check out Stew Smith’s Rescue Work Guide