Value of Fire Department Setting-Up Exercises
Chief S. R. Allen, of Brookline, Mass., Institutes Calisthenics in Daily Routine—Benefit to Discipline;—Improves Physical Fitness
THE adoption of drills and training for fire department members is more and more general throughout the country in both large and small units. The system which Chief Allen has inaugurated in his department, which includes regular setting up exercises every day for all members, has, he believes, been very beneficial to all. The following article gives a description of Brookline plan:
Setting-up drills are held twice daily in every fire station of the Brookline, Mass., department and it is the belief of Fire Commissioner W. W. Estabrook and Chief Selden R. Allen that these exercises are beneficial and of great value to the officers and men.
The idea of compulsory and supervised calisthenics in American fire departments is comparatively new although in some foreign fire brigades where military rule prevails it is customary for the men to do regular exercises and in some cases acrobatic drills.
Advantages of Setting Up Exercises
Chief Allen is a firm believer in the value of the drills and considers the system of daily exercises which he inaugurated soon after becoming chief of department one of the factors in bringing the Brookline force to its present state of fitness and efficiency.
“Discipline and morale are important in any organization and especially in a fire department“ declared Chief Allen in talking of the military bearing of his men.
“There is nothing so beneficial as setting up exercises to develop muscle, reduce surplus flesh, and make the men physically fit and able to endure the hardships of fire duty. It brings a keeness to the eyes, freshness to the complexion, and a snap and quickness to the movements of men who might otherwise he sluggish and lazy. It helps to break up the monotony of life in the confined quarters of the fire stations and, I believe, it could well be adopted by every fire department in the country. The ordinary indoor routine tends to unfit a man for fire duty.
“The men of the Brookline department go through a series of exercises that are aimed to develop their lungs and strengthen the muscles of the arms and legs. These calisthenics help the chest expansion and provide necessary action for men who otherwise would spend the greater part of the day sitting around waiting for the sounding of the alarm bell.
Drills Held Twice Daily
“Our drills are held twice daily, just after morning and evening roll call. This means that each man in the department will go through the exercises at least once a day and twice when on the 24 hour shift of duty.
“The drills are held on the main floor during the winter and on the roof or adjacent yard in the summer. The men are allowed to take off their coats and waistcoats to facilitate their movements.
“The commanding officer of each company leads the men in doing the exercises and sees that his instructions are carried out to the letter. There must be no shirking or half hearted participation.
Men Discover Beneficial Results
“We have found that after a time the men get used to doing the drills and discover for themselves the beneficial results obtained. They participate with snap and enthusiasm and the older men soon find that their wind and endurance are increased.
“I consider the drills of incalculable value,” the chief concluded.
The system of exercises used by the Brookline firemen is the one developed by the Gymnasium Department of the Town of Brookline and has proved simple, easily learned, and efficacious.
Twenty-Three Different Movements in Drill
The usual time taken for the drill is from fifteen to twenty minutes. There are twenty-three different movements involving use of arm, leg, and abdominal muscles.
Here is the list of movements used in the Brookline department:
Setting Up Drill
No. 1. Flexion of fingers and wrists.
No. 2. Flexion of elbows.
No. .3. Rotation of shoulders forward and back.
No. 4. Windmills in and out.
No. 5. Head bend forward, backward, sidewards, and turn. No. 6. Body bend forward.
No. 7. Body bend backward.
No. 8. Rody bend forward and backward alternately.
No. 9. Body bend sidewards.
No. 10. Hand touching opposite heel.
No. 11. Rise on toes and heels, alternately.
No. 12. F’lexion of knees, forward, backward.
No. 13. Extension of leg, forward, backward.
No. 14. Side abduction of legs.
No. 15. Squat position, right and left leg outward alternately.
No. 16. Squat position, legs extended backward.
No. 17. Squat position, legs extended spread twice.
No. 18. Squat position, legs extended, raise right hand, then left alternately.
No. 19. Squat position, legs extended, touch chin to floor.
No. 20. Squat position, legs extended, complete turn of body.
No. 21. Flexion of knees forward, backward, double quick time.
No. 22. Extension of legs forward, backward, double quick time.
No. 23. Side abduction of legs, double quick time.
Other Fire Departments Fall Into Line
Several other cities and towns now have setting up exercises as a part of the routine for both policemen and firemen. Among the New England cities where the fireman go through daily drills of this nature, might be mentioned Taunton where Chief Fred A. Leonard’s men keep in trim for the rigors of winter fire duty by limbering up exercises in the stations.
Indications-point to a spread of the setting up drill in fire departments and the chiefs who have already adopted the system are enthusiastic in their approval.
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