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Month: August 2013

Down to single digits to the T2T run

Down to single digits to the T2T run

Something that I usually gauge events on further is when the dates either appear either on my upcoming events reminder or the 10 day weather forecast.  I don’t know at what point everyone else does, but thats when a whole new level of butterflies kick in for me.  With the Tunnel to Towers run down to nine days away, it leaves me thinking am I ready for this…even if I know I can.  Clearly Stephen Siller did it as have many brother firefighters since then and continue to do so through the Firefighter Turnout Challenge.

While I don’t personally know either of them, I know many of us that compete in our gear throughout the year.  What I do know is that what I have done in the past has worked well for me, the only difference is road running with turnout gear.  I’m not going to change much up other than the usual question of sanity!  🙂

Words of advice that I have learned over the last seven years.

  • Hydrate – Plain jane water to the higher end sports drinks I’m sure you all have your favorites and some that you feel you perform better with.  You don’t have to overdo it with gallons the day before and morning of because you will see it again.  I find that starting to hydrate with 16-32 ounces of sports drink over a period of time a few hours before works really well and give the body time to process it.  A little before the event to wet the whistle and you are good. 
  • Eat right! – Sure you can eat that Chipolte the night before or have the wings and beer night, but you will feel that in the morning.  Eat well the night before and eat smart the morning of. Not a bunch of sugar that will be gone in minutes and not a ton of carbs the night before.  DO NOT TRY NEW FOOD THE DAY BEFORE!  That last is in caps for a reason, if you don’t know how it will sit, you very well might wake up not feeling on the top of your game.  DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST!!!  Just as important.  Don’t cram the food down right before your event, but give it some time to settle.  I find a mix of cereal, a bread of some sort, fruits, eggs, and even a Nutrigrain bar to work very well for me.  Find what works for you.
  • Rest the night before.  Get in bed early and get a good nights rest to let your body prepare for the beating the next day.
  • If it doesn’t feel good it probably isn’t.  If you are running, climbing, performing in your gear, make sure to listen to your body.  While you’re putting a knockdown on a fire it might be a short duration in your gear and on air, running a 5k, 5 miler, half, or full marathon, or climbing towers you are in it for a more extended period of time.

For those joining our program already in progress…

For those joining our program already in progress…

Welcome to our newcomers who are viewing the website for the first time since our official launch.  The actual idea for the site has been ongoing for quite some time as a journalist, firefighter, and smalltown philanthropist interested in paying forward and promoting the fire service.  Over the years seeing many of my successful brothers creating a web presence to promote their goal has been a huge driving force that pushed me over the edge.  Having met several of them and truly seeing just how much their cause or their project means to them was a big deciding factor.

FF4CURES.COM and FFCLIMB4CURES.COM were started to create a landing page for the many events that I’m promoting or participating in throughout the year.  To try and give out a website during an “on-air” interview or in conversation that links you to a fundraising page was almost impossible to remember.  In creating a landing page it lets me direct a larger audience to the site and cover many charities for “cures” and other philanthropy.

While for some events it might not be as much about fundraising as it is the actual meaning behind it, I can add a flair of commentary and support to the actual cause.  Others, such as the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society it will allow me to fundraise and work YEAR ROUND whereas I won’t have the page to accept donations until November.  If you would have asked me years ago when I first started getting ready for the stair climb I would have told you one and done, move on to something else.  To experience the joy and the feeling of being a part of these events is beyond imaginable and a huge reward.

You will hear me mention “cures” and “causes” often when I speak in public and on the website and think I am talking of only a single disease, when in fact the “cures” I speak of are very multi-faceted.  Cures for diseases, for hunger, those that have fallen on hard times, for those needing direction, and many more.  Just as important, sharing the advice or information about how to get involved or train for events to make a difference in your own community.

I will have some exciting news on here in the next week detailing information on a fundraiser leading up to the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb and teaming up to make a huge impact.  Sponsorship information will be coming out very soon and hopefully an update to the events list of where I will be!

We are all here for a reason and only here for a limited time.  It is up to us to make the best of that time and leave the world a better place!

You win with people. Who is on your team?

You win with people. Who is on your team?

As I’ve mentioned before, my ties with athletics and firefighting often give glances into two environments that are so closely tied.  With every call, with every resident I come in contact with inside my community it makes me further realize and appreciate the details of that bond.

Woody Hayes made the quote famous, “you win with people,” and how true that is in the public safety sector.  Your department can have the best apparatus, the safest gear, the most hose, best station coverage, 24-hour staffing, managers to oversee every aspect and detail, and the best ISO, but without people it makes no difference.  People are the best asset that any department or organization can have for that matter and building a successful team of individuals that share that goal is key.

What is that state-of-the-art fire truck good for if it is staffed with people that have the wrong attitude, or are there for the wrong reasons?

In sticking with the football theme I have going on here I will give you another quote from retired football coach, author, sportscaster, and motivational speaker Lou Holtz.  Holtz made an excellent point when it comes to excellence and getting performance from your team when speaking at a Konica business meeting in the 1990’s.

“You have to have a passion to win.  You can pay people to perform, but not to excel.”

How true is that?  We pay firefighters and medics to work their job, ride that truck, and do what is requested in their job description, but it doesn’t have to stop there.  There is more than just being a body in a chair that is at the ready, it is taking that job and having pride in what you have chosen to do.

Building your team and selecting your firefighters is perhaps this is an art that needs discussed more often to affect the results that we get when the call goes out.  Paper resumes, test scores, and an application give us information that the person wants to give us, but they only show a part of who that person is.

One thing that I think in all of the process for joining a fire department that gets overlooked is getting to know that person whether through interviews, or other means finding out how that person really ticks.  I know a great number of people that didn’t test well for a big city fire department that have went on to lead very successful careers on a volunteer department.  Likewise we can all name those that tested well and were in the top five to get hired and don’t turn out to be what anyone expected.

Winning.  How do you do that in the fire service you ask, we aren’t battling against anyone, or are we?  In the fire service, if you aren’t competing to win against someone or something you are truly missing out.  Our competition is different than on a field or court with numbers, ours is winning against a fire, successfully achieving a safe rescue, building a successful prevention and education program, and pleasing our customers.  For some it is the competitiveness of being the first crew and making the knock down because everyone in your truck is proficient at their jobs.  From the engineer/operator knowing how to get you there safe and then being able to pull water from a dry sponge to the guy on the nozzle leading the way to bring it under control, everyone is important.  When I don’t hear second tones for my department, we are winning.  When a truck rolls from my station that is filled with eager people I feel that we are winning.  When I look around and seeing the firefighter that used to be the “new guy” only a short time ago teaching a probie what to do, we are winning.

How we win or lose and lead the people/resources that we have is up to us.  We must focus on the great assets that we have already, not those that we do not possess.  Who doesn’t want every probie that joins the department be the “hungry” firefighter that excels at everything?  The truth of the matter is that everyone has their own talents and it is up to us to help them excel.  Not everyone is going to be the perfect firefighter, but it is up to us to utilize everything perfect and help them grow where they aren’t.

Lastly, I will leave you with a final quote from Holtz, who I dearly enjoy listening to in commentary even with his rambling.  He says, “it doesn’t take talent, it takes a can do attitude.”  Keep that in mind when you look around at your team.  If you’re in that officers seat of that truck and look over your shoulder and see those newer or lesser talented crew, that with the right attitude EVERYONE can win and EVERYONE can affect a successful outcome.

Doing good…

Doing good…

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 2.32.40 PMIn 21 days I will embark on my latest of challenges with an extremely strong meaning to the fire service.  I have performed climbs in full gear, I have marched parades in full gear, and competed in a variety of ways, but never ran in full firefighting gear.

On September 8 I will travel to Cincinnati to tackle the Tunnel to Towers run, a 5k road race that was inspired by Stephen Siller of the FDNY.  On September 11, brother Siller had gotten off shift at Squad 1 when news of planes striking the World Trade Center came across the radio.  As with much of the area, closures prevented much movement toward the incident and when he reached the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel he found it closed to traffic.  With all of his gear, Brother Siller ran through the tunnel and on to the Trade Center where he paid the ultimate sacrifice that day.

Given the circumstances of this event and the meaning behind which it was started I cannot think of a better cause to be a part of.  Truly a challenge, but indeed an honor to be running with brother firefighters, police, ems, military, and the general public as we honor the dedication and courage of an individual.  A mission of “doing good” in his name, what better way to live?

For me, the next several weeks will be some different and intense sessions of cardio in an already busy schedule.  As I am in the midst of a truck apparatus committee project and my department having an acquired structure the time is quite short when the sessions need to be long.  Plenty of elliptical work in the gym and indeed some road running with the gear are in order to prepare for this event.  As nervous as I am to be taking to the street in such manner, I am excited to experience how well the latest in Fire-Dex FX-R gear that was tailor fit for me will function.

If all goes well and schedules work out over the next month or so, this won’t be the last Tunnel to Towers run for me this year.  I have contemplated heading to the T2T run in New York city that will take Brother Siller’s route from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Ground Zero.  Words cannot describe the feelings that I have to take this route and to not only trace the steps, but meditate on the decisions made by many that day.

More updates and hopefully some new photos/videos will be coming to the website shortly as I look to build it further.

Running for Joe

Running for Joe

jasonAs I mentioned in an earlier post, “cures” come in many different shapes and sizes and achieve some type of goal.  Saturday morning marked the completion of my first obstacle type challenge run in of my career, and most importantly it was for another cause.  The “Hero Challenge” at Snow Trails in North Central Ohio was to benefit Washington Twp Firefighter Joe Tadijanac, a double amputee who was injured in the line of duty last year.  Anytime you can make a contribution practically in your backyard, all the better reason to step up for the greater good.  As I try to encourage my new firefighters and those whom we interview, “there is so much more to this job than just putting out fire and cutting up cars.”

Competing in events like these is not only about helping a good cause, it also goes a long way to staying “firefighter fit” and preparing for the next call, or the next event.  In 2004 when I started getting ready for my first event I couldn’t run.  Thats not to say that it was impossible, I just lacked the energy and the weight was a killer for my knees to handle.  I didn’t run, I walked back then, I stuck with elliptical machines when I could finally stand that much movement.  Boy have things changed for me!

If you’ve never done one of these courses before, you are in for a surprise.  I’ve done a variety of climbs and runs, but they all involved tracks, courses, and buildings.  We started off running right up the hill and over our first of 30 obstacles in the 5k course, what started as some mud and water cannons quickly turned into knee deep mud and water up to your crack.  If they could think of it, the designers of this course put it out there to challenge our mettle and try to break us down.  Despite running a little low on steam partway through the course, that was short lived and I managed to keep a decent pace.  Ropes, hills, tire walls, mud, water, balance beams, hanging logs, and did I mention more hills?  Most rewarding was getting toward the end as we could hear the music louder and louder.  A finish sign and a slip and slide lead to you to the close of the race and frosty beverages.  What a day!

I’m looking forward to posting some images once the event photographers update their gallery.

One thing is for certain, it definitely helped get me ready for the next event and make me hungry for the run coming up in Cincinnati on September 8.

Exercise anywhere…

Exercise anywhere…

IMG_6188Over the years I’ve found it difficult from time to time to always squeeze in a workout or to work with stairs, but thinking outside the box has changed that over time and allowed me to keep up.

While having a fancy gym membership has its advantages and definitely makes getting fit simple, sometimes it isn’t always an option.  Fitness can be found anywhere regardless of time or the size of your bank account.

Often times throughout last year I found myself either traveling or busy with a schedule.  A new job took me from working across the street from a corporate style fitness center with running track and three floors of equipment to a short drive and a much smaller gym.  Don’t get me wrong, even the small gym has enough to keep me busy, but it was the loss of ability to do a two-a-day on my lunch break and then be in there after work that was a routine killer.

I turned again to my old friend the stairs to help me take up some of the slack on my “lunchbreak”.  Across the hall is a stairwell, granted there aren’t 20 floors, but there is enough that with repetition gets the heart pumping and works my legs.  That wasn’t the only place I made the changes during my day, more walking and more moving.  Get up, get out, and stay active throughout the day.  Every hour I try to do “rounds” and go throughout the campus style layout that we have at work.

Work isn’t the only place you can make a difference.  Daily life, vacation, on road trips, and just the trip to the mall can all present opportunities that we often overlook.  On vacation it was as simple as parking in a central spot and walking everywhere, or taking the stairs at the parking garage instead of an elevator.  Why is it that we battle for that front parking spot and wait?  Take the spot a few spaces back and chances are not only will you be inside ahead of the person that’s sitting there with the turn signal on, but you are moving.

Think I’m crazy yet?  Steps add up to miles, miles add up to calories, and that makes a difference.  Extra activities throughout the day and week just help supplement your workout routine and keep you moving toward whatever goal that you might have.

How full is your bottle?

How full is your bottle?

When was the last time you checked those packs personally on your rig?  No, not wait for the truck checks to happen or hope that someone else did a check, but when was the last time you walked around one of your trucks and randomly checked safety gear.  How full is your bottle?  When did you last pull a spare bottle from by the wheel well or wherever your department has them stored and just check it to make sure what the pressure is?

For the many running high pressure, 4500 is full and we preach it to the new probies right down to the cadets.  How many times have you strapped into your SCBA only to find that you are a few hundred pounds short of full?  How many times have you filled to just 4300 because you didn’t want to crack open another cylinder on the cascade and 4300 is plenty?

What is a few hundred pounds of air worth on the fire scene to us, precious time is the answer?  The difference when you are standing at the cascade and slamming air into those bottles to speed through them seems like nothing, but when it cools and the firefighter strapping on that pack goes to work he might like the air.  Those precious pounds could be the difference between pushing a little further for the knockdown and saving a house, or getting a little deeper and making the save.   It might be that bottle in the rescue that’s going to be used on a scene with methyl-ethyl-death and cost the firefighter time in the hot zone.  It might even be that RIT pack bottle that’s going in to save your downed brother or possibly YOU!

What if we performed other operations on the fire ground with the same concepts that we do our air management?  Imagine your engineer standing at the pump panel decides how much water they are going to give you as the interior attack crew.  They run the calculations through their head and look at the involvement of the structure, determining that this “should be enough” to get the job done?  Much like the engineer can’t see the entire picture from their vantage point, the person filling bottles has no idea the person or the task of the firefighter that could be using that SCBA bottle.

You might think that I am only talking about air management with this posting, but in fact I am talking about many facets of the fire service and doing what we love.  All too often we are running a few hundred pounds short in our lives and saying that’s ok.  I don’t need to throw ladders on this fire, its “only” a room and contents fire, right?  I don’t need to pull that backup line to protect the stairs when a single line will “do the job”, right?  Stepping down off your rig with only 3800psi in your tank is fine until the SHTF and you are trapped in a collapse or become disoriented.

Why is it that we feel after seeing all of the LODD in the news, reading the reports, mourning our brothers that we still approach the fire service with the “this will work attitude”?