Monday, May 16, 2011

Necessity, the Mother of Invention

I'm headed East out of Seattle, writing this week's BlogSpot at 35,000 feet. Not that it's unusual for me to compose stuff on airplanes, but this time, I'm actually POSTING it while in flight thanks to SWA's new WiFi system. Who would ever have thought you could surf the web from five miles up? Technology is truly marvelous.

One of the features of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge is its simplicity. Aside from the Keiser Force Machine, there’s not a lot of sophisticated equipment required. This past week, I think that I’ve seen a new level of innovation; Jake Bange of Seattle FD is now carrying his version of the FCC course in the back of his Chevy pickup truck.

Lots of Competitors have used car tires to replicate dragging the hose. But, the fidelity of one tire looses something in the translation since the friction weight starts to go geometric as you add more length to the real hose drag. Then, there’s that pesky sensation when the second section “kicks in” and spins you around.

We haven’t done the definitive study to precisely identify the exact weight, but 240 pounds on the dynamometer was the value that I obtained the last time I measured the 1.75” hose fully extended. Jake has figured out a way to replicate the spin-around effect: use two tires, separated by a rope of approximately 20 feet. You take off with the first tire and then the second one kicks in. The great thing about this prop is that the country is awash with thousands of worn out mounted light duty truck tires. You can use a large eye bolt and big washer to penetrate the center of the tire tread. Or, if you’ve got the rim, just thread a rope or strap through the center hole and one of the lug bolt holes.

Jake gets triple duty out of his props; the tire can be used as a substitute for the Keiser station, or with a harness, towing the whole ensemble backwards really taxes the legs. You can bang away on the tire while standing on it, all the while getting a pretty good forearm workout just like what you’d feel on the sled. I tried the backwards drag and the legs definitely get a great pump.

There’s one more station that can be replicated with the tire; use a wider tire laying on its side as a step and move your feet up and down as fast as you can. Do about 60 counts to give you a reasonable facsimile for climbing the tower. Throw your shoulder load on for more intensity.

One more prop- the elastic stretching bands can be a substitute for the hose hoist. A nice wide sheet works pretty well; not as good as kettle bells, but you can replicate the biomechanics reasonably well.

So, there you have it. Almost the entire setup, for next to nothing in cost. And, oh yeah, the pickup truck ensures that wherever you go, you’ve got it: your own Challenge training course.

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