I am a Lieutenant with the City of Leander Fire Department. We are a small municipality just north of Austin Texas. I read your blog and knew I needed to share my views associated with fitness in the fire service. I've been relatively fit for my entire life, not only for myself, and my family, but for the people that I surround myself with.
I've always belonged to a team of some sort and have received continued education in the fitness industry. I have a strong belief that we need to take ownership for one another. We owe it to our families and each other's as they expect us to return home after each shift. The fire service is just an example of another team. Our failures don't come with a fumble or a missed shot, but carry with them a greater weight. One that I hope to never endure. We can’t perform the task of an incident alone.
Rather, we must rely on one another to see that the task is executed with minimal risk. If I'm willing to run into a burning structure for a complete stranger, then why in the world can't we stay physically and mentally ready for the coworkers that we would literally give our life for? How can I look their family member in the face and know, without a doubt, I can’t perform in a way that is expected of me? I'm not saying that you have to become an elite athlete, run marathons, or compete in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, but I do believe that you should be the best you and that is what they deserve.
I've always felt a certain obligation to remain "ready" for my co-workers, but what about the citizens that rely on us. They are under the belief that when in the event of a tragedy, their problem will be met with a more than capable emergency service provider.
That's what they deserve, and what they should receive, every time they need it. We chose this job, they didn't choose us. There are plenty of professions available for the average unmotivated person in the World, but this isn't one of them. In my opinion, One of the biggest issues with fitness in the fire service seems to be the complacency. The "I got my job, now I can relax".
Where did we lose our motivation? What sense of entitlement did we receive when we were given the badge? The fact of the matter is, we all, at one time held ourselves to a higher standard. We must find that inner passion that drove us to this job. I simply ask, “Whatever your motivation was for joining the fire service, that you find it, because there are hundreds of thousands who would give anything to have your career.“
I found the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge approximately 4 years ago and in doing so found hundreds of competitors just like me. My Department has taken an increased interest over the last few years and we've assembled a group of motivated firefighters who love to compete and camaraderie that goes with the challenge. We may never become world champions, or Lion‘s Den member's... but maybe we will. The only thing that I know for sure is, we are working on it. That's what my challenge is to anyone reading this...get to work! Do something, anything, just get started and realize your full potential. We only have one go at this life and what a blessing it is. God keeps filling your lungs with air, quite wasting it.
Respectfully, Joe Mayberry
Leander Fire Rescue