What makes us fit for duty? Training.
What training are we referring to? Tasks used to perform our job. Whether it be a technical rescue, hazmat knowledge, ARFF, district familiarization or countless other avenues, as firefighters we are called upon to know an extremely wide range of skills to perform our duties and go home at the end of our shifts.
While this knowledge is part of the necessary tools needed to perform, almost half of our brothers and sisters who pay the ultimate price do so because of overexertion. When called upon to fight fires, it takes an enormous amount of physical exertion to do our job, yet we aren’t physically training for the arduous tasks we will probably encounter.
That’s where Firefit Firefighter Fitness Trainer comes in. This machine mimics the most strenuous of fireground activities in a compact unit that will fit in the corner of most fire station truck rooms. In some cases, departments are replacing the cumbersome entrance exam equipment with Firefit. It’s turn key, requires virtually no set up and is modeled after the CPAT, with a couple of exceptions of course. Just drag the machine from the truck room to the station apron, or use it inside if you have the space for it.
Firefit was created and tested by Randy Johnson, a 14 yr firefighter in the Texas Panhandle, 13 of those as a career firefighter. His personal results while doing a six-week testing program were nothing short of phenomenal. Starting with his heart rate, Day 1 resting heart rate was 66, working HR in the 180’s and recovery time to resting was 14 minutes. His body fat was 22%. Weight was 202. After six weeks using Firefit as his only training, and only on duty for a total usage of 15 times, his HR was in the 150’s during the workout; recovery time dropped to 4.5 minutes! Randy lost 7 lbs, gained back 2 (probably muscle), and lost 4% bodyfat.
While these results are amazing in themselves, the reason for the creation of Firefit, according to Randy, is to reduce the number of names we put on the wall in Colorado Springs and Emmitsburg every September and October, respectively. After all, isn’t that the goal and why we train to be the best at what we do?
Holy cow, where do I begin???
BlastMask is a product made for firefighters by firefighters right here in the USA. Through the physical demands of their passion of firefighting, the creators were driven to produce a product that would make firefighter-oriented workouts more effective towards functional operational ability.
BlastMask has become a staple piece of equipment in MY training regimen.
I wasn’t fully prepared for how much it added to a workout. The day I found out I was going to get one to review, I went on eBay and bought a used Scott mask and waited.
The device arrived in a small box which included some advertisement material and a pamphlet about the scientific benefits; we’ll get to those later. The Blast Mask is an SCBA regulator-looking piece of plastic with a diaphragm inside that gives the wearer a feeling of being “on air” during the physical demands of a workout. When you first don the mask with the BlastMask attached, you at first question the benefits of it. At rest during normal breathing, it is rather difficult to realize just what potential this thing holds. Then you begin your workout.
My first workout with the BlastMask was paired with a sandbag system. The routine included weighed squats, pushups, burpees, tire flips and sledgehammer work with the tire. Just like when wearing an SCBA, as your heart rate increases, so does your bodies demands for oxygen, causing you almost to draw or suck air from your bottle. With the BlastMask, your mask will suck tight to your face as you work for each deep breath. You fight through it, continue to work, and when you finish your workout, you welcome the “outside air” when you doff the mask/BlastMask.
To say the BlastMask is a work-out accessory is an understatement.
There has been some questioning of firefighters working out in “gear” and whether they provide a functional advantage. While I’m sure most of it is personal preference, I can say that, scientifically, it has been proven. “When the BlastMask is worn in conjunction with an SCBA and bottle, your VO2 max (maximal oxygen consumption) is reduced by 14.9% primarily due to the regulator. Also, the firefighters peak power output and SPO2 (oxyhemoglobin saturation) are decreased by the regulator alone. TRAINING IN A FACE PIECE AND PACK ALONE DOES NOT REDUCE VO2 MAX, PEAK POWER OUTPUT AND SPO2.”
To add a quote directly from the company website, “BlaskMask makes a positive impact on your budget and resources. Fire service fitness initiatives have shown a decrease in lost workdays by 28%. What’s more, every dollar spent on uniformed personnel wellness returns over two dollars in occupational injury and illness costs.”
“BlastMask also saves the manpower and time it takes to refill SCBA bottles, keeping resources ready for real emergencies. Not to mention it decreases wear and tear on expensive SCBA regulators.”
Training with the BlastMask increases the firefighters’ ability to work under the physical stresses of a fire scene by building confidence through functional training and helps prevent firefighter injuries that are due to lack of fitness. It will also help prevent LODDs that result from stress and overexertion.
While conducting drills at the firehouse, a firefighter can train in a clean atmosphere, and still use the muscle memory of being on an SCBA. After the drill, your SCBA is immediately in service, full of air and “combat ready” on the apparatus. I also decided I wanted to my mask to simulate poor visibility. After a little ingenuity and some searching, I found something that would work. I decided what better way to simulate poor visibility, than to tint my lens? I usually use Glad Press’n Seal to give me a light smoke look, but limo tint is proving to be working great.
The BlastMask is most definitely an asset to any physical fitness routine.
Healthy, physically fit, trained firefighters are the most confident, mentally and physically strongest firefighters in the brotherhood, period.
Want one? Check out the contact info below for more information.