It was a cold morning as the sun struggled to break through the fog at the North Net Training Facility on the first day of the fire academy.
The breath of 18 firefighter recruits danced through the air as they stood lined up behind their bags awaiting instruction promptly at 7:30 a.m. Friday, March 22.
Each recruit had the same goal in mind – make it through the 8-week academy and become firefighters.
Day one wasn’t about to start slow, as the new recruits were immediately put through an intensive physical workout before class instruction started.
The recruits began their training by warming up with an array of exercises and stretches. After their 15-minute warm up, the real fun began.
Firefighter academy instructors needed to set a baseline to figure out where each individual recruit was physically, so they put recruits through an agility test.
“This gives them a good all-around workout to see where they’re lacking,” firefighter/paramedic Calvin Bui said. “Whether it be in the legs, the lungs, the upper body, the lower body, that type of stuff.”
The agility portion consisted of multiple tests. To get 100 percent the recruits needed to complete the collective test in under six minutes.
Recruits ran up several staircase flights while carrying a 100-pound fire hose bundle to the top of a building,
Bui said, “which is what we do during any type of fires that are in multi-story apartments, high rises, any type of buildings where we’ve got to bring our hose and tools up stairs.”
Once recruits reached the top of the tower, they descended the stairs to the third level, where they hoisted a 25-pound plate from the ground.
“This represents tools or a hose bundle that they would need to bring up to themselves if they’re on the roof or another floor,” Bui said.
After recruits finished the tower training they ran to the sled drag station.
A sled drag is essentially a 90-pound weighted sled that recruits would pull for 40 meters.
“A sled drag represents pulling hose,” Bui said, “like firefighters would do on the back of a fire engine to get water going.”
Next, recruits did a 40-meter farmer carry with 40 pounds in one hand and 50 pounds of weights in the other.
Farmer carries are purposely imbalanced.
“The farmer carry represents carrying tools from their apparatus to the fires,” Bui said. “They’re offset weights just like we would carry two different tools. We wouldn’t carry two tools the exact same way.”
If the previous exercises didn’t fatigue the recruits, the five tire flips after the farmer carries did.
“The tire flips represent any type of lifting or moving objects, debris, or victims; anything like that,” Bui said.
However, the workout wasn’t quite finished.
Recruits were pushed to their limits with upper-body exercises consisting of 10 pull-ups and 15 kettle-bell swings.
Then they got a break. They headed into the air-conditioned building for an hour-long instructional training before returning for the hose drag section of the fitness test.
During the hose drag, recruits get a feel for what having to hook up an actual fire hose is like. In full gear, recruits unroll, drag, and connect the hose to a hydrant.
Although the agility test was mainly intended to set a baseline, recruits will retake this test twice throughout the academy; once in the middle and once at the end.
“We were able to see where a couple people were lacking and what they needed to work on right off the bat,” Bui said.
With the fastest recruit finishing the course in just over four minutes, most finished around six to seven minutes with some finishing at eight. “Overall, I say they did really well,” Bui said. “We were pleasantly surprised by their scores because they were pretty dang good scores, it will be interesting to see what happens.”