When it comes to becoming a wildland firefighter, tactical knowledge isn’t enough to ensure you’re fit for the job. You’ll also need to be in top physical condition to take on the strenuous demands the job entails. If you’re thinking about becoming a wildland firefighter, here are the wildland firefighting physical demands and training you can expect to experience.
Physical demands of wildland firefighting
Wildland firefighting is a highly physically taxing profession that requires ample muscle strength and endurance. The exact physical demands wildland firefighters face will depend on his or her level of experience, training, and qualifications. All wildland firefighters must be able to complete a three-mile hike with a 45-lb pack in 45 minutes or less to show they’re suited to the general physical demands of wildland firefighting.
Training for wildland firefighters
All wildland firefighters must undergo preseason training to make sure they’re fit for the job. This training period generally lasts eight weeks and is designed to transition firefighters from postseason maintenance to fire season-level fitness. The program will emphasize both the physical and mental aspects of fitness. During the first six weeks of the program, training involves rigorous exercise designed to help build muscle strength. Initially, firefighters will generally engage in strength workouts twice a week. After the first couple of weeks, strength workouts will increase to three times a week, where firefighters are recommended to do one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions, lifting roughly 70 to 90 percent of their maximum strength.
The final two weeks of the program serve as more of a transitory period into the fire season. During this time, the emphasis on muscle strength shifts to muscle endurance. The weight will decrease to 50 to 70 percent of maximum capacity, the amount of reps will increase to 12 to 30, and sets will stay consistent at one to three. Such workouts should take place three to four times a week.
Because cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks are leading health and safety threats for wildland firefighters, cardiovascular training is also essential. Wildland firefighters are recommended to engage in around 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular activity four to six times a week at 70 to 85 percent intensity in relation to one’s established target heart rate.
To avoid injury during training, wildland firefighters should warm up before and stretch after each workout. In addition, they should also rest one to two days a week to prevent overuse injuries.
To make sure you have the equipment you need to carry out your firefighter training, shop The Supply Cache. We are a fire supply store that specializes in providing high-quality gear and equipment for wildland firefighters—including strength training equipment such as weight vests and packs, which give you the freedom to choose where you want to position weights for optimal stability and customization. They also allow you to add weight in increments as your strength increases throughout training. For more information regarding our strength training equipment, contact The Supply Cache today.