Monday, November 10, 2008


Our job can be fairly routine sometimes.We show up, provide our services almost robotically,and leave. Over and over the same calls and the same way of handling them. Are you part of the clusters, drawn to the herd mentality? It's tempting to deliver mediocre service , since no one will really notice and everyone does it. Learn to think outside the box. Re-invent yourself at the Company level. Develop an edge,which needs to be sharp and abrubt and distinct in order to generate the light it needs to thrive,and provide an added dimension to the service you provide.

Be Safe

Thursday, July 24, 2008


A big welcome to everyone from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Finland, Singapore, South Africa, Denmark, Ireland, The Russian Federation and Poland.

Thanks for reading!

Be Safe

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Body

Neurologically, the brain does not recognize individual muscles; It recognizes patterns of movement.

Every muscle and joint in the body functions in three planes of motion simultaneously.

We need to recognize that the body works as a unit and we should be training that unit to work together to improve firefighting performance.

Be Safe

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ice Ice Baby!

To manage pain and get back to fighting fires, I rely heavily on a simple weapon...ICE.

Not only is icing a simple and effective way to control pain and swelling, it minimizes the injury response, decreases soreness and quickens muscle recovery.

There are a lot of new high-tech cooling devices on the market, making cold therapy easy. From Cold Spray, to Roller Ice, to Ice Right.

To simplify things, sometimes I use a bag of frozen peas. It's a perfect substitute for the ice pellets pro's use. It conforms to the skin better than cubes and when combined with your basic kitchen saran wrap makes an excellent compression kit.

Be Safe

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Heart Rate Training...Ultimate Firefighter Workout Style!

I mentioned before how I have my own way of using a heart rate monitor that’s completely different from how most people use one.

When individuals use a heart rate monitor they usually are interested in keeping their heart rate in a particular zone, based on a formula. They’re either trying to get a cardiovascular effect or are trying to lose fat.

I use a heart rate monitor in place of resting a certain amount of time betweens sets. Here’s how I do it. After I warm up, I’ll do a set or circuit of certain exercises. Instead of resting 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets/circuits, I’ll let my heart rate come down 20-40 beats before I do another set/circuit.

This way my own physiology tells me when I’m ready to do another set as opposed to some random prescribed time in which your body may or may not be ready to go again.

If I’m looking to get a cardiovascular training effect along with some of my strength training, I’ll rest only till my heart rate comes down 20 beats from my previous set.

If I’m feeling a bit run down or it’s an easy day or week, I’ll let my heart rate come down 40 beats to get an added rest.

I use the same method when I do interval training. I learned it from Boston performance coach Mike Boyle, who uses it with his athletes.

Try it and see if it works for you.

Be Safe

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Firefighter Super Shake

This Super Shake provides you with more nutrition in one gulp than most of your coworkers take in all day. Just blend all the ingredients together for 60 seconds, pour, and drink. (Don't worry; it tastes good.)

1 CUP GREEN TEA This no-calorie beverage has been shown to boost metabolism.
1 SCOOP CASEIN PROTEIN Because casein is a type of milk protein that's slow-digesting, it'll provide a steady supply of protein to your muscles for hours.
1 TBSP GROUND FLAXSEED Flaxseed is a healthy fat that's been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure in lab animals. Buy it preground at a health-food store.
1/2 CUP FROZEN RASPBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES, OR STRAWBERRIES Packed with disease-fighting anti-oxidants, these fiber-filled fruits are four of the best foods known to man.
1 TBSP MIXED NUTS Research shows that adding one or two handfuls of nuts to your daily diet reduces your risk of heart disease without leading to weight gain.
1 TBSP GREENS+ (Plus)The nutrient equivalent of six servings of fruits and vegetables a day, it's the best-kept secret in supplements.

Be Safe

Thursday, June 5, 2008


It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I announce the death of fire fighter Marty Hauer, a member of Kent, WA Local 1747.

Marty was a friend, fellow instructor and and an IAFF Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT). Marty devoted his entire career to the promotion of health and wellness and advocated for early detection, succumbed to cancer. He spent the last five years on the development of a regional wellness center designed to serve many fire departments in the Seattle, Kent and Tacoma areas.

Ironically, Marty contracted a rare form of cancer that was not detected in pre-screening. As he battled with his illness during the past few months, he continued with his service to the IAFF -- as recently as two weeks ago when he staffed the IAFF Wellness Fitness Booth at the Phoenix Health, Wellness and Fitness Symposium.

Marty always held that early detection through annual medical and fitness evaluations is key to fire fighters health and safety. He always said, “The issue here is why go to the doctor and learn you’re very sick when you can go to the doctor and keep from getting very sick. With each win is another chance at life.”

Marty was a special guy, a devoted husband and a loving father.

Contributions can be sent directly to the Kent Firefighters Foundation in his name:

Kent Firefighters Foundation
P. O. Box 954
Kent, WA 98035

So long my friend. I’ll miss you.


Monday, June 2, 2008


Overcoming fear is a key to self- knowledge. One must welcome fear confront it, and become familiar with it. Consistent confrontation with the unknown familiarizes one with fear.

Most people follow the same recipe avoiding the unknown, eluding the inner conflict we all so desperately need.

These battles are required by virtue of evolution, and can be found in the gym, society or when fighting the red devil.

The location is irrelevant because the conflict is always within. Internal struggles are not won at another’s expense.

We lose when we defeat ourselves.

Don’t live the answer everyday!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Just Walk It!

Q:I know I should start doing interval training as a firefighter but all I do right now is walk on the treadmill for cardio. How do I start.

A:If you have been walking for a while that’s great . First step, buy a heartrate monitor. You can get them at Buy a cheap one. All you need to do is know your heart rate. Next time you walk use your monitor and see what your heartrate is during your walk. This is your Comfortable Working Heartrate (steady state). Most people would need to break 110 beats per minute to get a cardiovascular effect. Either way, don't worry about it. Just figure out what heartrate you normally walk at.

Next time you walk warmup for 5 minutes at your normal pace and then raise the incline to 5%. Walk for one minute. This should move you about 10%-20% ( this will be 10-20 beats in most cases) out of that steady state comfort zone. If it's more than 20% higher, reduce the incline to 3%. If it's less, raise it to 7%.

Step off the belt and wait for your heartrate to return to 100 beats per minute.

That’s it.

Be Safe

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Poll


The categories were Cardio, Functional Strength, Dynamic Flexibility, and Muscular Endurance.

Here's how you guys voted. Cardio 56%, Functional Strength 48%, Dynamic Flexibility 19%, and Muscular Endurance 31%.

So based on the voting, Cardio seems to be the most important component in a firefighters workout program.

If you voted for cardio, let me know why you think it's the most important component, and if you didn't vote for cardio, what in your opinion is the most important component in a firefighters workout program and why,

Best argument for or against gets a SuuntoT3 Heart Rate Monitor.

Send your arguments to

Be Safe

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heart Rate Monitors

Gina Kolata wrote a great article in the NY Times on heart rate monitors.

I have my own way of using a heart rate monitor. It's completely different from how most people use one.

I'll tell you about it soon.

Be Safe!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Comments Section Is Now Open.

The comments section is now open. Feel free to comment, send out ideas or just start a dialog with other firefighters.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries. It's made with ground meat, tomatoes, and regional ingredients.

The Cuban version includes olives and on occasion capers, omits chili powder, and is usually served with black beans and rice.

The name comes from the Spanish word, "picar" which means "to mince" or "to chop".

By popular demand, here is the recipe.

1 Onion chopped
1 Green Pepper chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic
½ cup of Green Spanish Olives chopped or whole
3 Teaspoons of Chili Powder
2 lbs of Ground Turkey or Ground Sirloin
Jar of Muir’s Organic Pasta Sauce

1. Sauté the onions, pepper, garlic and olives in olive oil for about 5-7 minutes
2. Add the ground turkey/ sirloin, and mash it up with a spatula to remove the clumps.
3. Cook until browned
4. Add the pasta sauce and simmer for 30 minutes
5. Serve with Basmati Rice or Pasta at the Firehouse along with a Salad or green veggies.
6. Have the leftovers for Breakfast.

Kudos to my wife Karen for the fantastic recipe.

You can also just buy the whole thing already made.


Be Safe

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's For Breakfast?

Hopefully everyone eats breakfast.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who is lean & healthy and doesn't eat breakfast. It doesn't take a PhD, to figure out that eating breakfast is important.

The physiological consequences of not eating breakfast won’t kill you but it will leave you with less fuel available for firefighting and your metabolism will slow down to a snails pace, making getting lean more difficult.

Here's what I had today. 5oz of ground turkey (picadillo style with onions and green olives), cup of green beans, piece of toast (made with millet and flax with no gluten/wheat), real butter, an 8oz glass of Greens Plus (Wild Berry Burst), water and 2 fish oil capsules.

So did you eat breakfast today?

Be Safe

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stress and Firefighters

Often called the “fight or flight” system, the Sympathetic Nervous System prepares the body to fight or flee from danger.

It activates the glands and organs that defend the body against attack, and Its nerves direct more blood to the muscles and the brain. The heart rate and blood pressure increase, while it decreases the blood flow to the digestive and eliminative organs.

The sympathetic system is catabolic, which means it tears down the body. Energy is used to prepare for defense, rather than for nourishment or for elimination of wastes.

The feeling of an “adrenalin rush” is a product of the sympathetic system. It may feel good at first, but is always followed by a feeling of fatigue, as this system uses up energy and depletes the body.

Because of the physical labor and stress that is part of firefighting the SNS is always turned on….and that’s not a good thing.

The fight/flight response is a healthy, essential and necessary part of a survival mechanism that is part of our evolutionary heritage. We need it now as much as ever.

However to be in a constant state of low-level alert as most firefighters are, has a negative impact on our health causing premature-ageing, stress-related health problems and tarnishing our quality of life.

Increases of sympathetic nervous system activation are also found in the onset of hypertension and cardiovascular disease that plagues firefighters.

Though hard workouts can certainly help dissipate stress, most of the workouts we do as firefighters are sympathetic dominant. Meaning we’re jacking up the system, and if the sympathetic system is always turned on at work and always turned on your days off, you’re setting yourself up for burnout, and a host of health problems.

What we need is a counter to all that stress and the negatives effects of being in a sympathetic dominant state.

Qigong practice gives our mind-body the space it needs be in an open,
clear and healthy state.

Qigong can be an excellent antidote to stress: The slow rhythmic movements of Qigong help literally and physiologically calm and slow us down and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system thus counteracting over-stimulation of the fight/flight response.

It is essential for a firefighters health and well being that they have periods of relaxation and rest. Without rest and relaxation the mind/body suffers and many negative stress-related signs and symptoms mentioned above.

The encapsulating, graceful flowing and relaxed movements of Qigong is an excellent antidote to the fast paced and anxious life that is a part of firefighting.

Qigong strengthens the body, in particular, the legs. The legs are sometimes referred to as the second heart helping the venous return of the blood to the heart.

Therefore Qigong is very beneficial for the whole circulatory system and the heart – two elements that are vulnerable to stress.

It's ok to start out with a book or DVD, though it is recommended that anyone wanting to learn Qigong go to a qualified teacher rather than just using a book/video as this will help avoid misunderstandings and potential pitfalls.

Qigong can be a way of learning a skill that is relaxing, good for you and can take you out of normally stressful situations, giving respite from the frenetic firefighter life.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wanna see the best workout book for firefighters?

I get asked all the time what I think is the best training or workout book for firefighters. My response is easy and has never wavered….the Core Performance series, by Mark Verstegen.

I think Core Performance is as close to the perfect firefighter workout as can possibly be written.

Most firefighter programs are two- dimensional when it comes to program design: Strength Training and Cardio, that’s it.

Core Performance addresses multiple qualities of program design, all extremely beneficial to firefighters.

Dynamic warm-ups or Movement Preparation, injury prevention or Prehab, Strength Training, and Energy Systems Work should all be included in your firefighter workout plan. Core Performance covers all these areas and more.

I can honestly say that Core Performance changed my outlook on training and human movement and has made me a better firefighter with a lot less aches and pains.

If you regularly workout get Core Performance. If you have no training experience I recommend Core Performance Essentials. If you’re a firefighter who participates in triathlons, marathons, or other endurance events get Core Performance Endurance and if you like to golf on your days off, well Core Performance Golf is for you.

Go out, get your copy and start moving, fighting fire, running, and golfing better!

Be Safe

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Los Angeles LODD

Los Angeles firefighter Brent A. Lovrein was killed and Engineer Anthony J. Guzman, was being treated at UCLA Medical Center for a fractured arm and broken ankle, wednesday afternoon in an explosion that rocked a Westchester business district as rescuers were investigating reports of earlier blasts and smoke pouring from buildings.

Lovrein, 35, was blown back and possibly hit by building material when an electrical vault blew apart, ripping a gaping hole in an office building at Sepulveda and La Tijera boulevards.

Rest in peace Brent.

Anthony, Godspeed in your recovery. Here's hoping you'll be back on the rig soon.

Be Safe

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stop the Sit-ups and Save Your Back

When I see someone with back pain I always ask them what kind of routine they are following, and a lot of the times I hear, ‘'I usually do 100 sit-ups in the morning”

Sit-ups are not the right thing to do for lower back pain. It is easily in the top ten of the worst exercises for lower back pain and it’s the worst possible thing you could do for the back first thing in the morning.

Discs in the spine are hydrophilic, which means they suck up water while you sleep and when there are no stresses present.

After rising, hydrostatic stresses of just walking around and using the muscles during the day compress your spine and the fluid is squeezed out, decreasing tensions in the disc.

So, when you wake up the extra height in the discs are like a full water balloon ready to burst and if you bend, you build up much higher stresses in the disc. In fact, the stresses are three times higher than when you perform the same bend two or three hours later.

Dr. Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, studied the effects of selected exercises on the lower back muscle activity and spine pressure levels. Sit-ups were one of the exercises Dr. McGill and his colleagues analyzed. What they found was that sit-ups generated approximately 3500 Newton’s of pressure or roughly 786 pounds of force.

According to Dr. McGill and the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety) pressures above 3300 Newton’s correlates with more lower back injuries.

Well, what if you bend your knees when you do sit-ups? Sorry, the bent-knee sit-up is second on the list for elevated spine pressures coming in at 3350 Newton’s. Still very high and a potential cause of lower back injuries.

Instead of sit-ups, do a modified curl-up to achieve the same if not more co-contraction of the abdominals, oblique and rectus abdominus.

Here’s how to perform it.

To begin the hands or a rolled towel are placed under the lumbar spine to preserve a neutral spine posture. Do not flatten the back to the floor. Flattening the back flexes the lumbar spine, violates the neutral spine principle and increases the loads on the disc and ligaments.

One knee is flexed but the other leg is straight to lock the pelvis-lumbar
spine and minimize the loss of a neutral lumbar posture.

The curl-up is performed by raising the head and the upper shoulders off the floor. The motion takes place in the thoracic spine – not the lumbar or cervical region.

Once you raise the head and shoulders off the floor, hold that posture for 7- 8 seconds, do not hold your breath but breath deeply.

Alternate the bent leg (right to left) midway through the repetitions.

The removal of sit-ups and the addition of a curl up to your exercise program will ensure a long healthy relationship with your lower back.

Be safe

p.s. Sorry for the grainy video, and the horrible carpet and drapes. This guy needs a design makeover... but his technique is good.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kettlebells for Firefighting

How do I incorporate kettlebells in my firefighter training?

I’m going to assume that you mean that you’re training to be a better firefighter and not just doing specific firefighter exercises.

The kettlebell is a traditional Russian cast iron weight looking somewhat like a cannonball with a handle. A favorite tool of the strongmen of old, the kettlebell has enjoyed a revival of late because they are very versatile.

There are literally hundreds of different movements you can do with them. They are also very compact, great for travel, indestructible and relatively inexpensive. You can spend a couple of hundred bucks on a few kettlebells and get a lot more for your money than if you spend twice as much on a treadmill or elliptical machine, or even a barbell set.

There is no inherent magic to the kettlebell. The trick lies in the training methods and the kettlebell is, in my opinion, at the top of the list of tools for teaching people how to move their bodies in a strong and meaningful way.

You can use them individually or as part of a routine. I like to incorporate them into intervals workouts, which would be great for firefighters.

Here’s a great routine for firefighters and all the Mixed Martial Artist, jujitsu guys and gals we have out there.

One minute round on a heavy bag (punches and kicks)
Ten KB swings
Complete 5-10 rounds

You can add it at the end of your regular routine, do it in place of a cardio day or as a stand-alone workout

Be Safe

Friday, March 7, 2008

How To Train Horizontally for $ 22.00

If you consider the basic movements we do during firefighting, you’ll notice that there is a significant amount of Horizontal forces occurring. I blogged about this back in December.

Most firefighter upper torso training is done sitting or lying, but when do you actually do that on the fire ground…exactly, NEVER!

Alot of firefighters don’t train standing, while pushing, pulling or pressing which causes the trunk to automatically stabilize. Instead they do a lot of their training sitting on machines.

Firefighters demonstrate poor integrated trunk stability, which ultimately leads to injury. I believe the reason is that most firefighters train muscles in isolation rather than in combination upper and lower trunk movements.

Doing so totally eliminates the lower torso and lumbo-pelvic-hip complex from being a part of the movement, which is unnatural, and not the way the body is designed to work.

You can certainly use things like a cable machine or pulley system like Free Motion equipment to train Horizontal forces however, most firehouses and garages don’t have the luxury of a cable or pulley system.

This is one of the reasons you should supplement your training with resistance bands.

For $22.00 you can get a resistance band that allows you to push, pull, and press both the lower and upper body in Horizontal directions which in turn does an outstanding job of integrating the trunk musculature.

So start training horizontal pushing, pulling and pressing and you will develop as a firefighter:

1. Greater total body stabilization
2. Rock solid core muscles
3. Better total body explosiveness and power
4. Better calorie expenditure due to multiple muscle activation
5. Less potential for Injury
6. Improved balance and coordination
7. Multidirectional dynamic flexibility and joint range of motion
8. Hip and pelvic strength and development
9. The ability to kick the red devil’s ass

Bottom line, to become functionally stronger you need to be incorporating
vertical, diagonal, and most importantly HORIZONTAL strength training as a firefighter and bands make it easy.

Here’s a resource for more info on resistance band training and routines.

Be Safe


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sled Dragging for Firefighters

Q: I’m currently doing interval training on a bike, but getting bored. Any suggestions on what else I can do besides biking and running?

A: I like using different protocols when doing interval training as I get bored quite easily also. For firefighters you can't beat sled dragging which is very job specific.

Sled dragging increases your GPP (General Physical Preparedness). The purpose behind GPP is to still get in cardiovascular shape, but to do so in a way that incorporates general physical strength and speed. Also, it's alot more fun than sitting on a bike.

You can get a sled here, or you can build a cheap one yourself.

Get a tire and put a sheet of wood in the bottom. Cut the wood to fit it into the tire,then put an P hook through the tire... fill the tire with cement. Attach a nylon rope to the P hook and loop it around a weight belt.

Here's some good sled info by the boyz at Diesel.

Happing Pulling!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

A week in the life of the Ultimate Firefighter Workout...

Horizontal Push: Decline pushups on a Stability Ball (2 x6reps)
Core:Front Plank ( 2 x 30 sec hold)
Corrective: Wall Slide ( 2 x10 reps)
Horizontal Pull: Inverted Row (2 x6 reps)
Lower Body:Val Slide Single DB Lunge ( 2 x6 reps)

Recovery & Regeneration workout
10 minute bike @ 60% Heart rate
foam roll
static stretch

Horizontal Push:Spiderman Pushup ( 3x15-20 reps)
Core:Side Bridge ( 2x8 reps)
Corrective:Glute Activation ( 2x 12 reps)
Vertical Pull:Machine Row ( 3 x15-20 reps)
Lower Body:Bulgarian Split Squat (3x 15-20reps)
Intervals on Bike x 10 minutes
Hip Flexor Stretch post ride 2 x30 sec each leg

Recovery workout:
Pool jog with flotation vest x 10 minutes
Foam Roll
static stretch

Horizontal Push:Db floor press ( 2x10 reps)
Core:Rotational Core ( 2x10 reps)
Corrective:Ankle mobility/TKO’s ( 1 x 15 reps, left, front, right each ankle)
Horizontal Pull:1arm db row (2 x 10 reps)
Lower Body:Hip Thrusts ( 2x10 reps)
Agility Work or/ Interval training x 10-15 minutes

OFF/ re-charge batteries.

AM Surf x 2-3 hours depending on surf, day, crowds, idiots on the beach, shop, and take dog for long hike/walk x 1 hour.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What's the Best Exercise for Firefighters?

For my's the good ole pushup!

Why? Because when you perform the push up, you recruit and strengthen the serratus anterior which stabilizes the scapula, and protects the shoulder.

In my opinion the scapula is the real star of the show with regard to shoulder injuries, and according to Lear and Gross (J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1998 Sep; 28(3): 146-57) their study supports the clinical use of push-up progressions to facilitate activation of the serratus anterior and the upper trapezius during upper extremity rehabilitation.

Since the scapula is HALF of the glenohumeral joint (the shoulder joint) and is essentially the foundation of the shoulder, this becomes an important point. Any altered scapular muscle function, weakness, or inability to position the scapula and then stabilize it results in a direct affect on the shoulder joint with dire consequences.

These include glenohumeral instability leading to arthritis, impingement, rotator cuff tendonitis/tendinosis, rotator cuff tears, labrum injuries, all injuries that firefighters suffer.

So the bottom line? Crappy scapular position leads to crappy scapular stability, which leads to crappy rotator cuff function, which leads to shoulder injuries.

Make sure pushups are part of your program design.

Be Safe

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The risk of heart attack is highest when firefighters are working at a fire scene — with increased odds ranging from 10 to 100 times the normal risk of heart attack.

So the question is…what do we do about it?

The key to developing a heart capable of sustaining exertion and recovering from that exertion lies in the understanding of the rhythms found in nature.

These rhythms are also found in the human heartbeat. It goes up and comes down, in a simple wave of exertion and recovery

The best way then to train the heart is via a cyclical exercise protocol where the rhythm and patterns of the human heart is mimicked. Where you train recovery as well as exertion.

Cyclical exercise, where the body undergoes exertion and rest, exertion and rest, (as on the fire ground) trains the bodies recovery physiology as well as your exertion physiology.

That form of training mimics the heart’s physiology of contracting and relaxing, which in turn produces a greater heart rate variability. Over half a dozen prospective studies have shown that reduced HRV predicts sudden death in patients with MI.

Reduced HRV also appears to be a marker of fatal ventricular arrhythmia. Moreover, a small number of studies have begun to suggest that reduced HRV may predict risk of survival even among individuals free of CHD

The bottom line is that cyclical exercise teaches the heart to tolerate chaos and how to recover from it…same as the fire ground.

Be Safe

Monday, February 4, 2008

Heart Attacks continue to be the leading cause of firefighter deaths. Most coming after heavy exertion on the fireground.

It shouldn't surprise us, but cause us to take action.

First thing to do is to figure out what are your chances of having a heart attack are in the next ten years according to the The Framingham Heart Study Coronary Disease Risk Prediction Score Sheet.

This tool effectively predicts the 10-year risk for coronary heart disease based on age, diabetes, smoking, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

For men you can get the score sheet here. For women go here.

If you didn't score well, then some lifestyle changes are in order. The whole point is to move as far away as possible from being a LODD, Line-Of Duty Death.

That starts with knowing where you're at.

Be Safe
Heart Attacks continue to be the leading cause of firefighter deaths. Most coming after heavy exertion on the fireground.

It shouldn't surprise us, but cause us to take action.

First thing to do is to figure out what are your chances of having a heart attack are in the next ten years according to the The Framingham Heart Study Coronary Disease Risk Prediction Score Sheet.

This tool effectively predicts the 10-year risk for coronary heart disease based on age, diabetes, smoking, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

For men you can get the score sheet here. For women go here.

Friday, February 1, 2008


How bout Home delivery (for free) of Ultimate Firefighter Workout.

I like receiving blogs via e-mail, that way I get all the information like a newspaper, and don't have to hit multiple sites. I can print out the information I got from the blog and take it with me.

I read the stuff while waiting for a BLS ambulance to transport a patient, free time @ the station, Dr.s appointments, the Vet, you get the point.

Hitting multiple blogs and sites, is like getting 10 different newspapers and magazines...EVERYDAY. I don't know about you but I don't have 10 hours a day to sort through all the available information out there.

I figured some of you might be the same, so I added a subcription button to the blog on the right. I think it's a great bargain.

You can get my blog by email every day. Or even better, get it free with your new, free RSS reader.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What's Responsible for Most Firefighter Deaths?

I read in Capt. Mike’s blog that the USFA had released it’s Provisional 2007 Firefighter Fatality Statistics.

Heart attacks and strokes were responsible for the deaths of 54 firefighters (47%) in 2007. That’s down from 51% in 2006.

It mirrors the Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, in March of 2007.The study showed an up to 100-fold increase in the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events—such as heart attacks—for firefighters while engaged in emergency activities.

The researchers also found that 32 percent of CHD deaths among firefighters occur during fire suppression.

Next time we’ll determine what are your chances of heaving a heart attack in the next ten years.

..and then I’ll show you what to do about it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Squatting is a primal movement pattern, a fundamental part of the job and should be part of your program design.

Squats are extremely challenging to the neuromuscular system, and their intensities can be continually altered through external loading. (firefighter terms: by changing the weight)

Squats are a multi-joint exercise, requiring the work of several major muscle groups, and making them more firefighter job specific.

Are you squatting?

Be safe.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Does a Firefighter Functional Circuit Look Like?

24' ladder station
stays on rack, get it off, one man carry to an object, stand it up into the air, bring it down.

no rest

Roof ladder station
place on ground, pick it up using high shoulder carry, walk to wall and throw it up into the air, bring it down.

no rest

Flat axe station
Keep hitting truck tire for 60 seconds

no rest

Sledge hammer station
Keep striking tire for 60 seconds

Rest 30 seconds and repeat 2 more times.

Hydrate...and call it a day.

Be Safe

Monday, January 21, 2008


If you want to be fit to survive, do the Combat Challenge, lose some holiday fat,
get rid of tissue adhesions, improve your firefighting performance, you have to have SYSTEM.

SYSTEM according to Wikipedia: is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole. Most systems share the same common characteristics.
Systems have a structure that is defined by its parts and processes.
Systems are generalizations of reality.
Systems tend to function in the same way. This involves the inputs and outputs of material (energy and/or matter) that is then processed causing it to change in some way.
The various parts of a system have functional as well as structural relationships between each other.

Brandon Cunningham of the Fort Gordon Fire Dept, with a 1:24.07 in the Combat Challenge...has a system.

The guy in your firehouse with the ripped abdominals ...has a system.

When you get a massage for your tight traps...the masseuse has a system.

To reach any goal , you gotta have a system, where you are able to explain all the steps of your journey from start to finish. With the end result being the reaching of your goal.

In other words, you have to have a clear plan, with a compass.

Can someone else produce results by using your system? Do they understand it and can they put it into practice? If not it's not a system.

I am in the process of developing my SYSTEM for firefighter training. I'll let you know when it's ready.

Be Safe

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Feel Better for a Dollar.

A trigger point is "a highly irritable localized spot of exquisite tenderness in a nodule in a palpable taut band of muscle tissue." In firefighter terms...It's a knot.

When the muscle fibers are over-stimulated you get a trigger point and the muscles remain in a contracted state, producing pain. Sometimes trigger points can also produce referred pain elsewhere in the body.

Foam rolling can take care of some of those knots and I'm a big fan of them, but sometimes you just have to go deeper and thats where a good ole tennis ball comes in.

A tennis ball gives you the advantage of being much more focused with your soft tissue work compared to a foam roller and allows you to really get in those hard to reach trigger points. You'll know when you've reached it trust me.

At the bottom of the foot, exists the plantar surface (plantar fascia) which is often the source of trouble that communicates up through the rest of the line, referred to as the Superficial Back Line.

The Superficial Back Line (SBL) is a continuous line of myofascial connections which run up the back of the body from the underside of the toes to the forehead.

By manipulating the fascia at the bottom of the feet, you change the status of the fascia all around the body and in a sense, there's a "systemic release" and everything lets go...from the bottom of the feet to the forehead

Just get a tennis ball and start rolling one foot at a time. When you feel a painful spot stop and hold it till you get a release or a 75% reduction of the discomfort.

Rolling my feet on a tennis ball, is the last thing I do before I hit the rack at the station. Wearing station footwear and getting in and out of fire boots all day long, can help develop nasty trigger points on the bottom of your feet. Those few minutes of rolling really help release alot of the tension in the feet

Try it and see if doesn't make you feel better ...for a $1.00

Be Safe

Monday, January 14, 2008

Workouts and the Aging Firefighter: Part II

The anti-gravity muscles are also known as postural muscles. They are located primarily from the lower lumbar spinal area down to the feet. The gastroc/soleus group, the quadriceps , the glutes, and the erector spinae group.

Therefore, extension movements that work these muscles must be given prime consideration in a conditioning program for firefighters, and don't forget the feet. Some foot rolling on a lacrosse or tennis ball will help here.

I'm a big believer in shoulder stability coming from working on the scapula and not just rotator cuff, because a large percentage of shoulder problems involve scapular dysfunction, but not all shoulder problems involve rotator cuff weakness.

Here's a great article by Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson, on shoulder stability.

Be Safe

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Workouts and the Aging Firefighter: Part I

Here are some program design thoughts to consider as you get older:

- you need mobility via massage too remove adhesions and restore length.

-you need a lot of extension work for anti-gravity muscles.

-you need tons of glute work and lower body work (preferably unilaterally).

-you need shoulder stability work after the extension work.

- use heart rate recovery, approx. 20-40 beats down from your highest during the interval to let you know when to do your next set, if you're performing interval training, rather than using the work/rest ratio 1:3 , 1:2, 1:1, method.

Be Safe

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Brother Goes Home

Firefighter Chase Frost a member of the Parkside Fire Company was injured early Saturday, August 11, along with fellow firefighter Dan Brees when the second floor of a burning townhouse in the Village at Green Tree complex fell on top of them.

Chase was released from the CCMC Burn Treatment Center to return to his home state of Texas, for further treatment and recovery November 28th.

Dan was burned on more than five percent of his body and suffered respiratory injuries from breathing hot air. Chase Frost experienced burns on more than 50 percent of his body.

DONATIONS for Dan and Chase can be sent directly to Parkside Fire Company, 107 W. Roland Rd., Parkside, PA 19015.

Commerce Bank located at 4236 Edgmonnt Ave. in Brookhaven is the depository for the Parkside Relief Fund. Checks, money orders or cash will be accepted as donations at the bank.

A special shout out to members from Parkside, Green Ridge, Garden City, Chester FD and Crozer EMS along with Widener Univ. ROTC program who along with family and friends were there to see Chase off and give him an escort to the airport.

Peace and Godspeed to you both!

Friday, January 11, 2008

3 Ways to Get Rid of the Firefighter Belly!

1. Don't put anything that has High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in your body!

HFCS is a sweetner made from corn. Since its introduction, HFCS has begun to replace sugar in various processed foods in the USA. Studies suggests that fructose increases obesity. Large quantities of fructose stimulate the liver to produce triglycerides, promotes glycation of proteins and induces insulin resistance.

So drop the Coke and Pepsi since they're made with HFCS.

2. Follow Nutrient Timing.

I don't advocate diets but I do like nutrition programs and principles. One simple principle that works for the firefighters and athletes I work with, is to save starchy carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta etc.) till after the workout or for breakfast.

Starchy carbs are an acceptable food choice for breakfast because in the morning your glycogen levels
are low, from the overnight fast, and the carbs you eat in the morning are going to fill your liver glycogen stores.

Post workout the carbs are used by the body to fill the energy void created by the workout, so they don't have a tendency
to get stored as fat.

3. Stop with the beer already.

There's a reason it's called a "beer belly," but telling a firefighter to drop the beer is grounds for being tarred
and feathered, and being run over by the Engine wheels...several times, but hey you're going to have to make a choice. It's either the beer belly or drop the Bud. It doesn't have to be foreever but just till you start dropping some of the fat.

The fat around the belly is the worst for us, and associated with all sorts of health risks.

Because of the carbs in beer, you'll autotmatically increase your insulin levels when you drink, and EVERY TIME you
increase insulin, the body stores fat, with the exception of post workout when insulin is used to drive nutrients into the muscle. The rest of the time you're outa luck.

Three things you can do today to drop the beer belly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Foam Rolling II

I got a lot of e-mails asking me to expand on the foam rolling for firefighters.

If you missed my previous post on foam rollers you can get all the info on foam rollers and their benefit to firefighters here.

Why is foam rolling good for firefighters?
Traditional stretching techniques simply cause transient increases in muscle length, foam rolling, on the other hand,offers these benefits along with the breakdown of soft tissue adhesion's and scar tissue.

Foam rolling offers an effective, inexpensive,and convenient way to both reduce adhesion and scar tissue accumulation and eliminate what's already present on a daily basis...and firefighters can develop a lot of knots from the job itself.

Just note that like stretching, foam rolling doesn't yield marked improvements overnight; you'll need to be diligent and stick with it (although you'll definitely notice acute benefits).

Where is the best place to find a foam roller.
For the best foam rollers go here. Or you can go to your closest Target (Tar-Jay) and pick up a foam roller in their exercise aisle.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Things That Matter

Replacing the Apple PowerBook 3400 AC Adapter that my dog chewed: $79.95

Trip to Blockbuster: $24.37 ( 3 movies, and a late fee or as they call it a "stocking fee." The movies were a wee bit late. )

Riding with LA City's Engine 60: Priceless!!!


Every Fire Engine in America probably has a water cooler on board.

I make my driver dump the water from the previous shift and add half ice and half water to it. How many times have you seen someone simply just add water to the previous shift's leftovers to fill it up?

Instead of water some guys like to put Gatorade or another sports drink in there. Water, IMHO, is the best hydration tool on the fireground. If the guys want Gatorade, after a job, then we hit the mini-mart or 7 eleven.

The amount of sugar in those sports drinks, will delay gastric emptying, continuing to allow dehydration. We use a simple solution and dilute the sports drink, to get some of the electrolytes replaced but no delay in getting it where it needs to go.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Are you active?

"Inactive firefighters have a 90% greater risk of myocardial infarction than those who are aerobically fit."

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 44(6):546-550, June 2002.
Peate, W. F. MD, MPH; Lundergan, Linda MD, MPH; Johnson, Jerry J. PA-C, MS (exercise)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Track & Field

Which Track & Field event most resembles firefighting?

It's the 400 meters. Firefighting is a combination of tasks such as dragging or carrying heavy objects and repetitive muscle actions like sledgehammer strikes or a hose hoist and you derive the majority of energy from anaerobic metabolism as in the 400-m sprint.

Firefighting however, is not a 400-m sprint but the metabolic training is the objective and along with improving fatigue resistance.

Develop your anaerobic metabolism which will help you successfully complete fireground tasks by combating the accumulation of metabolic waste products and circulatory/pulmonary disturbances which interfere with the supply of oxygen and nutrients to tissues, making you feel tired and weary.

Tired and weary on the fireground is a bad combination.