Adapting CrossFit to Endure the Fire 

Adapting CrossFit to Endure the Fire 

by Fadil Ameerally

Endurance goes hand in hand with firefighting.   

A good cardiovascular system is essential to jump into action with our hearts pounding at any given moment. Plus, we must be able to work for a long time without muscular fatigue setting in.   

Actually, firefighters could view most fires as high-intensity interval training. My heart rate and workload jump-start at a high pace until I run out of air from my breathing apparatus.  Then I usually go to rehab, where I take off my air tanks and gear to cool down and change out tanks.   

Then it’s right back into the fire where my heart rate spikes back up and my workload increases.  That cycle continues until we put out the fire or my body tells me to stop.   

When your body must meet that type of demand, you must train for that.  That’s why CrossFit is my preferred training method. 

Running at a constant pace and lifting weights at the gym is great for you. All types of training have their place.  However, CrossFit is the best if you want to train like a firefighter.   

Take walking on the rotating stairs at the gym as an example. Well, try doing that while wearing bunker gear, a mask and an air tank in scorching temperatures.  It’s a completely different when you’re breathing through a small hole in a mask.  To mimic these conditions without exhausting my crew at the station, we create CrossFit style workouts to do together in the afternoons.   

Here’s an example of a great, challenging one. We complete five rounds of this: 

  • 50-meter sled push with 90 pounds
  • 20 burpees 
  • 10 push presses with 95 pounds
  • 50-meter dummy drag, weighing 180 pounds 

The movements of pushing a sled and dragging a dummy mimic what we do in a fire. This may not seem that hard, but the compounding effect extremely taxes the cardiovascular system.  The burpees are full body movement, and the push presses are designed to mimic tearing down a ceiling with a roof hook or pike poles.   

We strive to do a workout like this during each shift to stay physically and mentally sharp. This accomplishment gives us the confidence that our bodies can handle the rigorous duties of firefighting, freeing our minds to focus on our jobs.