Drill of the Week: Physical Fitness I

In the FireEngineering.com Quick Vote from December 2002, 104 respondents stated their department had instituted a mandatory physical fitness program, while 337 had not. This week we ask that question again, but this time, in case your department still hasn’t implemented such a program, we’ll give you some information to get you started. More and more firefighters succumb to heart-related injuries each year. This week’s drill will provide members with an opportunity to evaluate their own physical fitness and create a goal-setting worksheet. Howard A. Chatterton, author of Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills, suggests running this drill every three to six months so members can measure their progress.

Suggested materials for this drill include copies of a self-evaluation worksheet and fitness plan (provided in Chatterton’s Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills); the Fire Engineering video, Stamina; cloth tape measure; standard tape measure; flexibility measurement board; and body fat calipers. As a minimum, you should have an EMS crew available. You might also consider requiring a physician’s release for each member. When possible, a certified fitness instructor should conduct the drill. Any member who has difficulty with any exercise in the drill should be taken out of it immediately. Have drinking water available and ensure that members drink water prior to and following each exercise to avoid dehydration.

The drill has three parts:

  1. Fill Out a Health Risk Evaluation Form (like the one provided by Chatterton)
  2. Perform a series of exercises
  3. Prepare a Personal Fitness Goals and Progress Chart (like the one provided by Chatterton)

The health risk evaluation form is for members’ personal use. Record each member’s resting pulse and blood pressure before starting any stretching exercises. Make sure all members have a list of stretches. Using a form like the one Chatterton provides, take members’ measurements using the body fat caliper. Have a female training officer take females’ measurements and a male training officer take males’ measurements. Measure body fat according to the instructions provided with the calipers. Record the measurements on the Health Risk Evaluation Form. Have each member sit on the floor with legs straight and feet flat against a flexibility board (instructions for how to construct this board are available in Chatterton’s Volunteer Training Drills-A Year of Weekly Drills). Record the measurements.

Have each member perform as many bent-knee sit-ups as possible in two minutes, followed by as many push-ups as possible in the same amount of time. Finally, have each member perform a 11/2-mile run. Remember to instruct members to stop if they experience difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, or leg pain. Record the time of the run. Have members record their pulse rate immediately at the end of the run and at five, 10, and 15 minutes thereafter. Record the numbers on the Health Risk Evaluation Form. Ensure that members walk around after the run and perform the stretching exercises to avoid injury. Have each member fill out the goals column in the personal fitness goals and progress chart.

Prior to commencing the drill, make sure members understand this is not a drill to determine who can ride the apparatus. At its conclusion, review each exercise, emphasizing the need for stretching daily; encourage member to develop a fitness plan; show the Stamina video; inform members if you plan to repeat the drill at regular intervals; and consider establishing a fitness award for high-scoring individuals and a most-improved award at the end of a six-month retest period.

If you have a similar drill idea and wish to share it, please e-mail to chrism@pennwell.com.

To review training officer and safety officer considerations, visit http://fe.pennnet.com/Articles/Article_Display.cfm?Section=OnlineArticles&SubSection=HOME&PUBLICATION_ID=25&ARTICLE_ID=202453 to review training officer and safety officer considerations.

For more information on this drill, including a list of references and figures, visit http://store.yahoo.com/pennwell/voltraindril.html to purchase Volunteer Training Drills–A Year of Weekly Drills.

Next week’s drill: Hose Handling I

FireEngineering.com Drill of the Week Archive

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