Monday, November 25, 2013

Cotton Bowl Classic Post No 7- Course Helpers

We’ve been offered help from many of you, and we greatly appreciate the offers. Presently, the AFD is doing a solicitation from their ranks. We’ll be looking for 12 Course Re-cockers per side.

We do have a standby list of guys who would like to move up to the racing ranks if a vacancy occurs. Again, keep in mind that this event is NOT open to the public - in that you have to have a ticket to get inside the perimeter.

We will be on the west Special Event Plaza. The timeline is being moved by about 15 minutes. There will be a rallying point identified where the shuttle will begin each run to the event.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

World Challenge XXIII- Heads Up

My usual practice is to not make any announcement about the specifics of the World Challenge before things are fixed, as in a signed contract.

I’m very sensitive to the need for bidding for leave a year in advance. Presently, we’re negotiating with LiftMaster to hold World Challenge XXIII at the Sprint Cup finals in Phoenix, November 8 & 9 (Saturday and Sunday).

There are a lot of details to be addressed before we go “hot” with the news. However, I get it- that you’d like to get the time off to compete. Most departments give seniority rights to leave requests in December. So, the heads up.

One possibility is the Wild Card Eliminations would be held downtown Phoenix and we would move to the track on Friday. This is being explored and may not happen. That means we might start on Monday. But, that could change.

There are no secret negotiations or other source of information. This is the official site for the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge and the first place that the official schedule will be posted. As soon as we know it, you will also know it.

Having just said that, we are not liable for changes of venues or airplane tickets.

Friday, November 22, 2013

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic: Post No 6- The Tower

Ron Beckman will be transporting the tower to Arlington, Texas on the 1st of December; it will be set up on the 2nd. We’ll be planning a lot of activity around the course, including a Good To Go (G2G) program during the month of December.

Presently, we’re diligently working on a media plan that will allow TV and print media to come to the AT&T Stadium to “try out” the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge course starting on Wednesday. The Team Mascots will race against each other, assuming that their costumes allow such activity.

I want to remind everyone that this is the only official site for information about the Cotton Bowl Classic. Questions should be directed to our office.

It is our intention to fix the number and names of the individuals and teams that will be participating. We do have a standby list and many of these individuals have offered to assist with resetting the course. If you’d like to be considered for one of the 24 positions, indicate your interest via an email.

The logistics of shuttling the competitors and event staff is being worked on; the two hotels will be rallying point, alleviating any requirement to have to pay $60 to park your car.

Fit Firefighters Less Prone to Injury: Study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
C. E. Huggins
11:50 a.m. CST, November 15, 2013
 - For a physically demanding job like firefighting, fitness is a basic requirement and may protect against injury, U.S. researchers say.

After tracking men and women in the Tucson, Arizona, fire department for five years, the study team found firefighters with the highest aerobic capacity tended to have the fewest work-related sprains, strains and other injuries.

Even though the least fit firefighters were in better shape than the general population, the study shows "those that are ‘less fit’ in an otherwise fairly fit population of firefighters and medics are still susceptible to an increased risk of injury as compared to their ‘more fit’ counterparts," according to lead author Dr. Gerald S. Poplin, of the University of Virginia.

Poplin and his co-authors used aerobic capacity - the ability of the body to use oxygen - as a gauge of firefighters overall fitness levels. They got fitness information from records of the fire fighters' annual physicals and tracked injuries in fire department reports covering 2005 through 2009.

The Tucson fire department operates 21 fire stations and serves 520,000 city residents.

Among 799 male and female fire service employees included in the study, 357 had at least one reported injury during the study period. There were a total of 773 injuries - not including strokes, heart attack, heat exhaustion and other conditions that suggest an underlying disease or problem.

Two thirds of all work-related and exercise-related injuries were sprains and strains. Thirty percent of injuries led to lost time on the job.

Poplin's team followed standards from the Wellness Fitness Initiative of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) to divide participants according to fitness level.

They used a measure of aerobic fitness, VO2 max, that represents maximum oxygen levels transported through the body during extreme exertion in the form of milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.

To put things in perspective, Poplin told Reuters Health, for non fire-service workers, gardening may require 14ml/kg/min of aerobic capacity, whereas professional basketball or cross-country skiing may require more than 50ml/kg/min of aerobic capacity.

In the general population of nonathletes, the average healthy man will have a maximum capacity between about 35 and 40 and for the average healthy woman it will be about 27 to 31.

For the firefighters, an aerobic capacity of less than 43 was considered "less fit" and those with a capacity greater than 48 were considered "more fit." Overall fitness levels among the study participants ranged from about 43.6 to 55.8, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

In general, the firefighters' risk of on-the-job injury increased as their fitness levels decreased. The least physically fit firefighters were more than twice as likely to experience injury as the fittest.

The least physically fit individuals also experienced injury sooner, within about two years, than the most physically fit firefighters, who lasted about four years without injury.

In their report, Poplin's team says it's not clear why the fittest firefighters were less likely to get hurt, but they speculate that those "in the top levels of a fitness spectrum may not be as susceptible to microtraumas and may recover better from injury than their less-fit counterparts."

The researchers conclude, "These findings illustrate the importance of fitness in reducing the risk of injury in physically demanding occupations, such as the fire service, and support the need to provide dedicated resources for structured fitness programming and the promotion of injury prevention strategies to people in those fields."

Jim Brinkley, director of Occupational Health and Safety for the International Association of Fire Fighters agreed and also emphasized the importance of teaching proper lifting and bending techniques.

"Fitness without proper movement patterns or proper movement without fitness both leave you unprepared to meet the physical demands of the job," he told Reuters Health.

According to Poplin, the study results indicate that for an individual firefighter, improving aerobic capacity by 3.5 ml/kg/minute would reduce injury risk by about 14 percent.

However, improving physical fitness among firefighters will require financial resources and specialized trainers, such as the peer fitness trainers used in the Wellness Fitness Initiative, he said.

A key aspect of the initiative, which calls for individualized wellness-fitness programs for active firefighters, is a holistic wellness approach that addresses "medical, fitness, injury/fitness/medical rehabilitation and behavioral health," according to the IAFF Website.

Currently only about 10 states, including Washington, Texas, and New York, have fire departments participating in the initiative, along with one department in Alberta, Canada.

"We have this make-believe image that firefighters and paramedics know how to keep themselves in shape but they need proper instruction just like everyone else," Poplin said.

Noting that "a lot of fire departments rely on other fire departments," Poplin added that volunteer firefighters would also greatly benefit from such resources.

Brinkley cautioned against a "knee-jerk reaction" of setting a physical fitness standard that all firefighters must adhere to, however.

"Everybody's always looking for that cut off," such as a specific number of push ups or sit ups, he said.

"There are certain levels (of physical fitness) that are benchmarks to improve to meet the demands of the job," he said, but the specific benchmark varies from individual to individual.

"To say that every firefighter must be able to do X" is not right, he said. "It is our position that the best way to measure (fitness) is on an individual basis," he said.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, online October 31, 2013.,0,2954988.story?page=1

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic - Post No 5- Lodging

Here is the first posting on the lodging arrangements:

The Baymont Inn and Suites
Arlington at Six Flags Drive
2401 Diplomacy Drive
Arlington TX 76011

We have reserved a block of 25 Double Occupancy Rooms for January 3- arrival, January 4 Departure. If you want to come earlier, the price will be honored, but that’s based upon availability.

For Reservations: Call ONLY this phone number:
877.361.2496. Do NOT call the hotel directly.

You MUST have the confirmation number: 35941757. Confirmation will be guaranteed with a valid credit card.

Block release: December 20th (if the rooms have not been reserved by this date, the deal is off)

Individual cancellation is 24 hours prior to arrival

The price is $88.90 per night, including the 15% tax and a $1.90 facility fee

Amenities: Shuttle, Continental Breakfast, Gym, Pool, Free WiFi

We will follow this post with another property’s information - a more upscale facility.

Monday, November 11, 2013

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Posting No. 4

An important clarification on access to the Lion’s Den Invitational of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge at the AT&T Classic Cotton Bowl - AT&T Stadium. All Challenge competitors will be provided free entry along with a Spirit Pass (Standing Room only ticket) that will allow access to the stadium and to be part of the pre-game flag unfurling activity. 

Unfortunately, friends and family will have to pay $50 for access to the special events plaza. This is not your normal Challenge in the Home Depot parking lot. The gates are outside of the event and we are inside the gated area. The game is already sold out. The cheapest seat on the secondary market is $250. There may be tickets available through other sources, but we do not have any special access other than through our official roster. So, please do not show up and think that you’ll be able to waltz in the door. 

If you have never been to a Cowboy’s game (and this is a bigger deal), be prepared for some gridlock and sold out everything. And, unless you want to walk with your gear bag about 2 miles, pay careful attention to the upcoming instructions on how the shuttle service will work. The acres of parking will be packed with tailgaters. 

All of the event volunteers must be vetted and we’re reserving the slots for those WCXXII competitors who may not make the cut but want to work the course. That’s the least (and unfortunately the most) we can do. 

Other Amenities
There will be special gold medals for the first place finishers only- provided by the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Also, a special commemorative tee shirt for the Lion’s Den Invitees.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic - Posting No. 3

Today was a good day. We met with the Cotton Bowl organizing committee and went through the logistics, time lines, and all that. So, here’s the latest. We will roll in on the 31st and set up in preparation for media challenges and demonstrations. The Arlington FD will provide coaching and assistance for the many entities that want to have a go at the Challenge course.

We are working on lodging and bussing. The first hotel that we’ve made arrangements with is the Comfort Suites. This will likely appeal to our sponsors. While we got a killer deal for the timeframe, with tax, it’s going to run about $150 per day. They do pickup at both DFW and Love Field. Plus they have a nice gym and great breakfast. If you’re looking for an upscale place this is it. I’ll have the contact information shortly. We’re looking to book perhaps as many as 50 rooms in a moderately priced and convenient location. And as mentioned earlier, a manifest of available racks in the adjoining fire stations.

The Game
Lots of interest in attending the game. So, our Challenge Competitors will be given “Party Passes” which will allow entry - with a caveat. First, friends, family and strap hangers will have to purchase the wrist band for $50. The second part is that you'll get to help unfurl the 100 yard long American Flag at the start of the game. This will require the assistance of 250 people. We’ll ask that you wear your helmet and bunker coat. We’ll have a place to stash your gear during the game.
The 100 Yard Long American Flag
Here’s some snap shots from the visit to the AT&T Stadium today
Engineer Adam Evans, AFD Engine 14
Post-Cotton Bowl Meeting Sightseeing: Paul Davis and Adam Evans

The Start: The Final Word

The Mil-Spec, Nuclear Hardened ALGE timing system
At this year’s Challenge Advisory Board (CAB) meeting, Saturday morning, the 26th at the Stratosphere, the topic of the start system was addressed. Over the span of the past year, and longer, I’ve covered this protocol in my BlogSpots. As the old adage goes:“When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember your original mission was to drain the swap“ - the change effected some two plus years ago- was to allow competitors a more natural start, versus the crouched one with fists on the pads. 

The design was expanded to determine false starts with a fail-safe, computer monitored system that was based upon drag racing.  A couple of things happened that no one liked. The start itself turned into a contest, where we encouraged people to see how close they could get to the edge before incurring a five second penalty. We call this the law of unintended consequences. The other downside was after spending thousands of dollars, this finicky system required a knowledgeable electronic technician to trouble shoot the numerous problems.

Despite our promises to not make changes during the season, we would have failure at the most inopportune times, resulting in our having to resort to other methods for the start. We did not have the luxury of being able to put everything on hold while we shut down the races. For example, in Hermosa Beach, after working on the system for hours, and effecting a fix, when next powered on, the system failed. We did a work around, and that fixed failed. So, I can share the frustration when you have to make two changes within a single competition. The alternative was to call off the event in order to satisfy those who believed that this was some trivial annoyance that could easy be dealt with. 

So, after all of these problems, I made the decision to retreat to the simpler, more stable system of going with the siren. We have abandoned the drag racing start. The brains of the current system has always been the Alge computer that costs upwards of $15,000. It’s the same one that’s used all Olympic and World Championship track events. In Las Vegas, the transformer for the Alge did a melt down and while we scrambled for a replacement, we had to resort to whistles and handheld stop watches. 

One of the CAB members opined that this was costing Competitors 1.5 seconds. I immediately challenged this baseless claim with data. Everyone one of our course officials has been vetted with the use of a stopwatch. We are typically within hundredths of the display times. So that is a frivolous claim. Within an hour of the meltdown, we had a replacement transformer and were back in business. 

This is not a professional sport. But, out attention to the details is consistent with measurement at the highest levels of any sport. From this point forward, the siren will be the start of the clock. Competitors who touch the high rise pack before the siren will incur a 5 second penalty. You may adjust the high rise pack forward or back, but it will not be curved when placed on the mat. The starter will step on the pack to ensure compliance. We have virtually eliminated the false start penalty for trivial movements of the feet and those who incurred a false start penalty earned it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

World Challenge XXII Redux

All week long, I was making mental notes about things that I wanted to mention in my Blog. So, to recap:

1. The Venue: you can’t beat walking across the street to race. A perfectly flat course. Pretty incredible weather. And totally cheap rooms. I had comments about the hose pull that ranged from “hardest ever” to “didn’t even notice.” The black top had been finished with a special paint for a racketball tournament. Perhaps that added to the friction. But it was the same for everyone. Did we luck out on the windstorm? Those 70mph gusts took a dumpster across the parking lot and right into our Chevy pickup, breaking the fender and a tail light.

2. Jeannie Allen: Incredible to see Jeannie- and the inspiration that is so infectious. Makes all of your daily issues seem pretty inconsequential. The out pouring of support, especially at the Lion’s Den was a testimony to the incredible people who make up this amazing fraternity. Look what the rest of the fire service is missing out on.

3. TV: My earlier post below provides some mandatory reading about how TV works within our sport. But, absent the ≈1 hour network down time (not our fault), I got a lot of atta-boys from viewers around the world. For 84¢ per day, not a bad deal. We were streaming at 44mbs - which is full on 720p, HD quality. (That works out to be way less than 1¢ per minute.) All of the content is up there still and you’re free to capture your run and repost wherever your heart desires.

4. Lion’s Den: Many thanks to John Granby and the folks at Lion for a great evening event. No one went home hungry. And what a great new crowd of inductees!

5. Our Over-seas Visitors: Holy Cow. What a blast! They are definitely stepping up their game. I can’t wait to get back to see how things are going to go in France this year. Loved the red, white and blue wigs! Thanks so much for making the trip.

6. Robert “Jake” Jacobsmeyer: Engineer extraordinaire of the Las Vegas FD. With Jackie’s assistance, this team jumped through hoops for months. You can’t believe all the nit-noid stuff that they had to deal with. Like, every time we come to Las Vegas, there’s some new permit. The latest was an unexpected $1K out lay for the generator inspection. Jake took it all in stride. And a shout out for the Mayor and the Fire Chief showing up.

7. The Walk On: Belinda Shuttlesworth has got this dialed in! Thanks everyone for making this a visual desert! Mayor Goodman was in awe of the range of competitors.

8. Our Announcer Team: Mike Word and all his energy, with assistance by John Kraft -spelling Mike so that his voice would last to the end; Jim DeGrandpre who was there before the sun came up and after it went down. Maria Prekeges- with all of her energy in capturing guys in the end zone - breathless.

9. Randy Huntington: My bad- scheduling Randy’s presentation at 4:30 when the Thursday crowd went on till 7P. But, Michael shot all of it and will be editing the PowerPoint presentation so everyone can view it. I now know how Mike Powell broke Bob Beamon’s long jump record. It was a pleasure to have side ringside and engaged Randy’s incredible powers of observation on all things Combat Challenge.

10. C.A.B. Meeting: This will be a separate, upcoming recitation of the 90 minute meeting Saturday Morning at John Granby’s room.