Thursday, March 7, 2013

PT: Physical Training

One of the major safety tools firefighters have is physical fitness. Physical training is one of the most important things a firefighter can do to stay safe on the job.

Hotshots (like me) are required to meet extra rigorous physical requirements.
Right now I'm training so I can be able to:
1. Hike 3 miles with a 45lb pack in 45 minutes
2. Run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes and 35 seconds (or less)
3. Do 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds
4. Do 25 push-ups in 60 seconds
5. Do 7 or more pull-ups

I have no doubt I can hike the 3 miles in under 45 minutes with the 45lb pack. I've done it every year for the past 5 years. I'm still working on running 1.5 miles in 10:35. Last week I ran it in 12:45, which isn't bad considering I was really tired... Yesterday I ran it in about 11:30, which is good considering how windy it was outside and that I wore the wrong shoes...But, I've still got a ways to go before I'm at 10:35. I should be able to do it easily considering that's only a 7 minute/mile pace, which was about what I ran in high school for cross country.

Push-ups are tedious. They're a little boring to do over and over again, and probably I look funny doing it, but push-ups are a big deal in my job. It's about upper body strength. So far I can do 34 push-ups. I can also do 40+ sit-ups, and at least 8 pull-ups. So, at least my upper body is making good progress. I just need to keep working on my speed endurance when I run. I have to admit though, I have a lot more fun doing upper body workouts than I do running on a treadmill. Maybe running will be easier for me when I can do it outside more.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Budget Cuts and How It Could Affect My Job

Today my lovergirl texted me and asked if my job for the summer would be secure against the forced federal spending cuts coming from the White House.

There's lots of talk right now about sequester cuts and "shutting down the government."
I caught a snippet of some news channel where President Obama was talking about how these cuts will affect people like the janitors in the White House--the people who clean up after all the major political leaders of this country. He said that they will have cuts in their wages.

As a wildland firefighter I have worked for the Bureau of Land Management under the Department of the Interior. Funding for my job comes from the government and I am therefore a government employee. As this article  mentions, wildland firefighters and other seasonal employees (such as recreational technicians, park guides, etc) may not have the opportunities that have previously been available because of budget cuts.

It's a scary thing to think about when your livelihood depends on a seasonal job like mine does.

I think the BLM, Forest Service, and Park Service will each take a toll with whatever sequester cuts are put in place. Last year my office wasn't allowed to hire as many resources as in previous years. One problem with this (other than the fact that several people went without a job) is the added pressure for those who are still employed. Last year the fire season for my district was insane. Grasses were dry. Humidity was low. And fires grew to thousands of acres. The few firefighters still working were then met with the pressure of filling the duties normally filled by twice as many resources. It put our firefighters, local towns and residents at a greater risk than normal because we didn't have the people to meet the work load.

I heard Obama mention that safety was his main priority. I hope that he doesn't just mean safety in terms of having a national guard to "protect" our country. I hope that wildland firefighters are included in his priorities, because if our fire crews have to take a toll by hiring fewer firefighters, our safety on the line and our communities involved in wildfires this summer will be at risk.

Here's to hoping for Safety First on all fronts--but especially for the wildland firefighters.

Questions? Comments?

Fire Away!