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Month: January 2015

Sweat, funk, and who knows what

Sweat, funk, and who knows what

I’ve talked for quite some time about training in our turnout gear, as mentioned back in a previous article (, and spoke about cleanliness at the gym.  Perhaps and area where I haven’t delved into as much is one that really gets me fired up, and that’s our PPE cleanliness as a whole around the firehouse. When I mean firehouse, I mean from the busiest to the slowest around because it can affect any and all of us.

I’ve been trying to think of a way for some time to really put the whole clean PPE thing into perspective and I think I found it.  Really it comes down to, “quit being a lazy ass that wants to look cool because I guarantee you this that you’ve increased your odds of getting cancer.”  Maybe what we really need to do is tell you that, “you’re going to DIE,” there is no calm way to get it across, because these are the statistics where more and more of our Brother firefighters are battling cancer.  Skin, testicular, prostate, lung, digestive, where do you want it, because it’s coming in a variety of flavors and in some cases more than once.  The CDC says it, NIOSH says it, and the labels on products out there have the dreaded “C” word.  What more do you want?  Does it take someone near you being diagnosed before you take action?

Over the weekend, driving back from a competition I had plenty of time on my hands to think and as I sat there un-showered after four climbs up a skyscraper it hit me.  “I really need a new Scentsy disc in my truck because it reeks like a locker-room.”  I promise this is coming together here.  It comes down to this.  Working out, competing, and hitting the field in our workout clothes are no different than the fire ground and PPE.

Would you ever think about busting your ass at the gym for a few hours and then go wear the clothes all over the house, change and not shower?  Would you run a marathon and skip out on changing clothes?  Ok, maybe you might run to the store, but eventually you’d shower.  Now lets get personal and imagine that you take that same set of clothes right down to whatever you choose to wear, and repeat it.  Not just repeat it the next day, but the day after, and then a week, and then forget about it in your gym bag and just keep wearing it?  I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I know my workouts are far from easy, even on the light days so imagine the nastiness that builds up.  Its getting a little gross, right?

Your workout clothes thankfully are just funk, smell, and bacteria, now think of your fire gear.  Not only do you have the funk and smell inside, but also what’s on the outside?  I honestly can’t tell you that because do we even know?  Do you know what has burned, decomposed, dripped, spilled, or that you have brushed up against?  Looking back at my last fire I can remember some insulation, drywall, plastics, paneling, slime of some sort, not to mention the particulate, so who really knows.  I guarantee you this that what is on there is nothing that you want to come into contact with over a long period of time.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been that guy before.  Either because there was a line for getting my gear cleaned or I had to leave in a hurry and couldn’t completely get everything as clean as I should.  Shame on me, but we can all change going forward.

How do we take some action that will make a difference, that’s a GREAT question that you ask?  First we start that process of decon on scene by spraying some of the big chunks off.  When we get back to the firehouse cleaning up not only our tools we used, but the cab of the truck, get our equipment back in service, and then start on our gear and ourselves.  If you can, top to bottom with all parts of your PPE.  Not every department is fortunate enough to provide two sets of gear, but as soon as possible follow your department guidelines for washing your bunker gear.  Get that mask cleaned up, that helmet, and your boots, these are three things that can go right back into service.  Something that I learned over the course of my fire career is having backups and spares of certain items such as hoods and gloves.  In a document put out by the Firefighter Cancer Support Network in 2013 the hood is not designed to stop skin absorption, only protect from heat.  Even worse, that area of the body which it “protects” is more permeable than others.  Read their full document here ( for the full details.

So as I said, have backups.  Wash your hood, wash your gloves and get both of them drying while your backups are in place.  Once you have your gear in the washer, equipment all back in service.  Wash up.  If you can, shower.  Get as much of that remaining particulate and who knows what off you.

The cost of a hood and a pair of gloves is a little over $100, but sometimes you might be able to find an older pair to make due until you can get both.  While my department can’t provide me a second set of gear I have taken it upon myself to see that I have proper set of backup gear that is approved which I can rotate in.  Looking for some?  Check with your local supplier.  I’ll be quite honest I ended up purchasing mine at an open house from our gear vendor where they were liquidating new gear that either was a misorder or for some reason not out in the field.   Perfect fit and plenty of years left in it.

When your frontline gear is ready, get it out of the dryer and back into service.  Let the fact that you have survived a long career of firefighting, healthy and active be your badge of courage, not blackened gear.   I would much rather be cancer free and able to watch my son join the fire department and pass down the trade which I love.


Your event “Instant Replay”

Your event “Instant Replay”

I’m a big techie when it comes to firefighting, fitness, and multimedia, actually I’m just a big techie altogether. There are lots of places where the right technology can assist either actively or after the event. One thing that I have done for awhile is to record my climb in video from a helmet cam. There are plenty of reasons, such as putting together tribute videos, and thank you videos, but one thing I am learning more from is playing them back. By playing them back it gives me the ability to improve and see how I can get faster, or at least make it easier on myself. That time when I finish and see the results only tells a part of the story, it doesn’t give me much feedback on how I got there or how I screwed up.

I took the opportunity to view one of my videos from the Bop to the Top in Indianapolis after getting home Saturday night. The climb was great, actually I had a PR in both events and on all four climbs had a PR. What I learned besides the fact that I say some incredibly interesting things and sing at times, are other very important things for the next one.

Here are a few things from my replay that I took away from the Bop climb that need to be improved on:

  • Leaning on the handrails at times when I should be pulling up and swinging around the landing.
  • Not transitioning to the next handrail for up.
  • The big one, which I knew by the time I got to the top, was air consumption. My breathing was a little out of whack for this climb and I went through air fast. I finished without running out, but I breathed at a much higher rate than I needed to. Did I mention this needs a HUGE improvement?

Out of everything the big one that I need to focus on for the next climb is better dialing in my respiratory rate and how fast I’m consuming air. While on a 36-40 floor climb it might be fine, but for a longer endurance race such as the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb I am going to need to change it up to finish on air. However you choose to review your competition, make sure to take an honest look at improvement and beating your own goals!

Welcome to the new year!

Welcome to the new year!

Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time training, competing, some on writing, but a little housekeeping has went by the wayside.  During 2014 my goal was branding and getting the website and information out there so you could find it.  Obviously in looking at my stats on here, getting you here isn’t an issue and interacting over the last year has been HUGE!  With that said, in 2015 I want to make sure once you’re here that you have what you’re looking for and give more.

In 2015 a goal of mine is to transform the site a little more and add some new features to it.  Visually I’m not looking to make really a significant improvement, with the exception of getting the FF4CURES logo into the header and more visible.  I’ve had the same header on here since I sat around a campfire in Virginia Beach when I pressed the button to go live.  Actually I’d rather spend more time on the content rather than the backend of the site, but alas it must go on.

Fitness is a big part of what I do in getting ready for any competition or duty, so I’m looking to add even more in on that area.  I hope to focus a few more articles onto working out and getting some ideas out there.  Am I an expert, no, but I have tried and true methods that I have been taught or found on my own that are priceless.  Along the way, I’ve found some of the wrong ways for me and if I can avoid your stumble I certainly will.

Paying forward is a term that neither most nor I can take credit for the phrase, but it is a very important part of this blog and my life.  Paying forward is a mantra and way of life that I attribute to the great Woody Hayes at The Ohio State University.  That phrase and that act is something huge that I promote through my work and through my actions, I show it because I want to encourage it.  I promote it because I wonder just how much better the world could be if each one of us had that mindset of giving.  When I look at the events, competitions, workshops, meetings, and assistance that I am involved with or promote, you’re going to see some things that will move you here.

Competitions.  I know I spend a great deal of time trying to find where I want to compete at and it can get frustrating.  I think for a few of these I have spent more time trying to locate than the event actually takes to run or climb.  So my goal is to list more of them in a format with links as I run across them.  It’s going to take a little time and work, but I’d like to improve it.  After all if you’re finding that you want to get out there and do more, I should be handling out some directions and suggestions of where to do it.   Look for more local contest information, climbs, etc to be posted on here.  If you have some, please send them my way, ESPECIALLY if this is a firefighter-hosted event.  As a brotherhood we should be promoting each other.

My hopes are to take last years success and push this even further.  I have a heck of a year to try and compete with, but how very exciting it will be.

In Brotherhood,