Does (staffing) size matter?

Many of you have probably seen the report published by the NIST regarding adequate staffing levels for fire companies.  It wasn’t much of a suprise to learn that a four-person crew is more effective than a two-person crew.  This research will no doubt be used by many fire departments to justify maintaining or increasing current staffing levels.  But the attention the report will get may be missing the point.

It doesn’t matter if there are two people on the truck or 10. If any crew member is out of shape and can only last six minutes into a structure before they have to retreat, how effective is that crew, really?  This didn’t occur to me until my own health was questioned.  Until this past Sunday, I was content being blissfully unaware of the deteriorating physical condition I was in.  That night though, Shaun T removed the wool from over my eyes.

The realization that I was losing one of the most fundamental skills to being a firefigher hit me like a 2×4.  I have worked feverishly over the last several years to attend fire service classes and expand my scope of knowledge on the profession.  Yet while I was pursuing these extracurriculars, I completely neglected one of the most fundamental aspects – my health.

This may sound like I’m beating a dead horse.  Everywhere you turn you see health and wellness initiatives in the fire service.  We’re all about focusing on fitness.  But while that may look good on the macro level, the view from the micro level is a little different. Consider this, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests to either:

  • Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or
  • Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

Are you meeting the standard?  Can you be completely honest with yourself and say that your fitness isn’t a detriment to your crew?  If not, do yourself a favor and find a workout program to get yourself back on track.  It’ll be a long journey and I wouldn’t mind having some company along the way.

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About Josh

I am the Recruitment & Retention Coordinator for the Boone County Fire Protection District.
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