Friday, September 14, 2012

Imagine if...

The Team Landon in Berlin
Over twenty years ago, I was told by a physician friend of the daily fitness test taken by every Parisian firefighter. I couldn't independently verify this- at least until this week. But it's true. 

I met a contingent of 10 Parisian firefighters at the Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge. They invited me to visit their station, which I did last Monday (9,10.12). 

It took a couple of Metro trains and some walking, but I arrived at the Landon station, just as Google Earth had directed. The station captain introduced himself and provided a tour of the fire house. The building was huge, with a full galley, training room, spacious engine bay and a well-equiped workout room. We discussed work schedules and shifts and the usual casual conversation that fills the voids when visiting firehouses.

At the Paris, France Chateau Landon Fire Station

But what I really wanted to know was about the mandatory daily fitness test that my physician friend had told me about over two decades ago. Yep; absolutely. And a demonstration was ordered. Affixed to the wall at about 8 feet is a 1.5" thick shelf about 24" deep, held in place with a set of braces.  The firefighter, wearing full bunkers, (unlike the photo) grasps the edge of the shelf and pulls himself up and onto the shelf. That's it. Just that simple. 

Start Position for the Ledge Muscle Up

Finish Position: Ledge Muscle Up
If you can't do that, you don't ride the apparatus that day, or any day until you can pass the daily fitness test. I don't know what percentage of US firefighters that would be capable of passing this simple test. I'm pretty sure everyone who participates in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge can. But think about it. What could be a simpler field test of muscular fitness than the ability to move your own body weight (and bunker gear- absent SCBA) to a ledge?

Imagine the huge economic savings in orthopedic injuries and reduced metabolic diseases like diabetes if we could boast this level of fitness for an elite class of firefighters. Then certainly, "Everyone would be going home."

If you'd like to see a YouTube video version, click here:

No comments: