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.