In recent years, the focus on being fit for duty has the fire service talking about training as tactical athletes. This term has been applied not only to firefighters, but to law enforcement and the military, and is centered around physical fitness focused on job-specific tasks.
Functional fitness, or being a tactical athlete, is a foundation for reducing injuries and line-of-duty deaths. The data collected over the years by the U.S. Fire Administration shows that stress and overexertion are the repeated leading causes of firefighter fatalities. BlastMask enables firefighters to train as tactical athletes by exercising without taking SCBA out of service.
The BlastMask facepiece and regulator, combined with a weighted vest, can be worn while doing exercises simulating forcible entry, ladder raises, victim drags, and more. Workouts such as these not only improve cardiorespiratory endurance but are better related to MET (metabolic equivalent of task) than simply lifting weights.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, states an aerobic capacity of 12 MET or below is a Category A medical condition where a person cannot perform essential job tasks. Searching for occupants in a smoke-filled room is believed to require 16 METS. Compare this with football players and soccer players who work between 15-18 METS. Firefighters cannot underestimate the importance of exercising in a manner that replicates job tasks.
Working out as a tactical athlete with a BlastMask regulator will allow firefighters to maximize the time spent working inside a structure. Firefighters in high-stress situations can operate at or above their maximum heart rate for 30 minutes or longer. When muscles work harder, more oxygen is consumed for the body’s tissues to use. The body can only use so much oxygen (VO2 Max), and when performing strenuous work, an individual will eventually reach their VO2 Max and no longer be able to work any harder.
Training as a tactical athlete should focus on air consumption. Look at the physical activities that are involved in the use of SCBA. Firefighters can utilize any combination of movements, such as pulling, pushing, swinging and lifting, to create a workout that, when combined with a BlastMask regulator, provides the benefits needed to perform as a tactical athlete.