Monday, February 25, 2008

From Chief Monte Fitch (ret)

Thank you Paul for your kind remarks towards my participation in then, the most advanced controlled physical challenge to the firefighters in the 1970's. Most understood the stress, physical exertion, overheating of the body, climate changes from warm bed to cold task of the tillerman on a snowy night, or from the A/C'ed station out into the humid hot summer heat to respond to an incident.

Heart attacks were accepted as part of the JOB.
You undertook a challenge to ask firefighters to try to do in a competitive / testing manner what they could possibly do most any day on the JOB and in some busy departments several times a day. The difference in your challenge they were being watched, timed, and evaluated on their work day skills.

You took this challenge in a time when smoking was a norm, diet consisted of SOS, bacon, eggs, hash browns for breakfast while they planned dinner that usually consisted of meat, potatoes, pasta, gravy, bread and a rich desert. In between we sometimes had time to have lunch.

As you mentioned physical fitness was almost unheard of and certainly not a part of the daily routine as it is today. Fitness also brought about healthy eating changes.

As I have mentioned in conversation, I truly feel that your work to develop the Combat Challenge while promoting physical fitness has given the firefighter a better chance to survive the hazards of the JOB. Your persistence in the face of many, including the IAFF who dismissed fitness of firefighters and the combat challenge was a waste of time. Yet you continued and are to be commended for your successful efforts.

It has taken many years, but through the spirit of "friendly competition" the Firefighter Combat Challenge became recognized as an event to participate in and to be proud of being one of those who bettered their time in the challenge.

As time passed and your dream and goal became reality to the fire service everywhere, the challenge has now become a standard to meet in order to be hired as a firefighter. It gave a new meaning to who can and should do the JOB. I still believe that if a person is unable to meet your standard we should question whether they should be on the JOB, because we all know after time if not challenged we lose our ability to do the "JOB" over the years then we becomes susceptible to injury and heart disease and less capable of helping our fellow firefighter when challenged in the heat of the battle.

I remember the first competition and subsequent events that I participated in like it was yesterday. I remember after the first competition at the U of MD and coming back and talking to Captain Richard Foster, our boss then, and telling him what we had to do. He came to the track at Sherwood High School and ran along with us and he says he remembers how tough it was to run the mile and half. From that day on and today after retirement he runs and exercises to keep in shape. Your work inspired many to become better at their JOB in a new area of fitness, just like we studied Building Codes from Brannigan or Fire Administration from Chief Gratz.

Thank you for your dedication, persistence and courage to make the fire service a safer and healthier place to work.
It gave many more a chance to come home to their families at the end of their shift.

Thanks for the chance to review your new Blog.

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