For starters, it takes a spark plug to ignite the excitement and recruitment of other similarly situated firefighters. Scheduling workouts, time off and other logistics are not insignificant. Just making that first step in commitment is a major decision point. This not pickup softball on a Sunday morning.
This is an amateur sport, with no way to recover the costs for fielding a team. What we have by way of rewards are some Firefighter Combat Challenge bling, recognition within the small circle of other fitness affectionadoes and, perhaps the citizens in the community in which you serve.
To allow smaller departments the opportunity to field a team, we broadened the description of what constitutes a “Team” for the purpose of recognizing medal stand finishes. The debate has been on-going, for almost as long as our two-plus decades.
We’ve had teams from the biggest FD (FDNY) to some single house, volunteer departments. At one point, it was proffered that every member of a team would have to show their pay stub to demonstrate homogeneity.
The Mutual Aid concept took hold but quickly began to spiral out of control. Case in point: Missoula, a pretty small department, but bigger than most that had a member from the Missoula Rural FPD was what was in mind within in the definition.
But, let’s take the greater Washington, DC area. After 9-11, we now have a mutual aid agreement that encompasses a firefighter population that’s north of 5,000. Think of the talent pool that could be mined for the production of an all-star team. Clearly, this is not what was intended under the strict interpretation of Mutual Aid.
To get out ahead of this thing, if you’re thinking of gerrymandering to get some super-star that’s not in your zip code, you’re probably not playing within the spirit of the rules. If in doubt, check first to avoid embarrassment.