The 10 Minute Workout

One of our biggest excuses for lack of exercise is simple, it’s lack of time. Most of our time is spent working, sleeping, family obligations and friends. Very rarely do people say they have or make time for exercise, which in our profession is very unfortunate since as we’ve said in numerous posts thus far, we are “functional athletes” and need to behave, think and train like one; mentality and physically. 

In order to enjoy our life, our family, friends, combat the stress of the job and continue to feel healthy for the long haul, exercise is essential to this and what I am sharing with you all today is the 10 min work out you can do at home, in the gym, on the go and even in the firehouse alone or with your crew.

Why am I saying all of this?
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is recommended to have at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic pace exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Depending on how hard you work out that will equate to 21 minutes per day of moderate aerobic pace exercise or 11 minutes per day of vigorous exercise.

So here are a few options of the 10 minute workout:

1.    Jogging: This is great for cardiovascular health, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and is known to decrease the risk of osteoporosis. The American Council on Exercise states that an individual weighing 180lbs can burn up to 170 calories by taking a 10min jog.
2.    High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This is my personal favorite and although it burns calories and fat quickly, it is not recommended for beginners. HIIT is a form of interval training and cardiovascular exercise training alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. This type of workout will challenge your cardiovascular system more than jogging along with added benefits such as increasing your metabolism, improves cholesterol profile and increases insulin sensitivity. A bodyweight HIIT Workout would look something like this: 50 sit-ups, 40 jump squats (or body squats), 30 pushups, 20 split jumps, 10 triceps dips, as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds. You will take a 30 second rest between each exercise in order to perform each exercise with 100% effort. 
3.    Circuit Training: This a great strength training workout due to strength training .Generally strength training requires rest periods between sets for muscle recovery however with circuit training uses antagonistic muscles (when one muscle contracts, the other relaxes, i.e. biceps and triceps) allowing for shorter rest periods An example of this would be as follows: 3 sets of 10 reps.
a.    Pushups
b.    Hollow body hold
c.    Squats
d.    Glute bridges
e.    Bench dips
f.    Plank hold (30-60 sec holds)
4.    Jump Rope: Jumping rope can burn more than 10 calories in a minute and a great way for overall body toning. Here is a quick jump rope workout you can do anywhere. 60 seconds regular jump, 60 seconds rope side to side, 60 seconds single leg (left), 60 seconds single leg (right). The goal is to do this routine non-stop for 2 rounds. If you are new to this, do regular jumps for 60 seconds for 4 rounds with 30 second rests. For the single leg jumps, start with the weaker or less dominant side first. 

So, there you have it. Four different workouts we can do any time, any where for overall health. Incorporate these into your daily life will have you feeling healthier, stronger and battle ready to perform when the alarm goes off.  

Please note: Always consult with your physician before getting into physical activities while recovering from any injury or surgery. It may not be the best treatment option after an injury or surgery or may be limited to particular modalities.

Until next time: work hard, stay safe & live inspired.

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 16 years in the fire service in Piscataway, NJ as well as NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor and currently a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. He has also been elected as a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ from 2008-2011. A blue belt in taekwondo and former collegiate athlete, Nick is currently studying to complete his certification as a TRX Instructor and a Battle Ropes Instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

 

Sleep and Firefighters

One thing firefighters have been known to lack, is lack of sleep. Generally, not something that is talked about or brought up in conversation, but lack of sleep has links to firefighter injury and death. Think about it, emergency service personnel live off shift work and interrupted sleep patterns which are out of their control since alarms can happen any time of any day.

According to The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, sleep or interrupted sleep patterns could be a major factor in more than 60 percent of firefighter deaths. The majority of these are caused by heart attacks and traffic accidents. Research has shown that approximately 7,000 firefighters have reported to suffer from numerous sleep disorders such as obstructed sleep apnea, insomnia and shift-work disorder which was reported by the New York Times.

They also reported firefighters are also more likely to develop serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety because of sleep disorders. In addition to these health problems, firefighters are also likely to report an increase in kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke and obesity.

NYTHEALTH RESEARCH

Firefighter Deaths Could be Linked to Poor Sleep

Helen Regan Nov. 14, 2014

Sleep plays an integral role in physical health and especially of one of a functional athlete.

The human body is built with an internal clock and changing to our sleep patterns at any time can disrupt or alter the internal clock which is built on routine – something we don’t have much of as firefighters. While sleeping our bodies are healing and repairing our heart, blood vessels, muscles and allowing our bodies to heal. In addition, sleep with repair and consolidate memory. 

So what could we do to ensure we get a sufficient amount of sleep off duty so we are recharged and energized for our next shift?

Here are a few tips to try while off duty:

1. Routine. This is important. Stick to a sleep schedule while home.

2. Power Down. Turn off or avoid all electronic devices 30-60 minutes prior to bed.

3. Keep Cool. Try to keep the bedroom cooler than other areas of the house. Majority of people sleep more soundly in a cooler bedroom.

4. No alcohol or caffeine. Both are known to disrupt sleep patterns either by unexpected wake ups or restless sleep.

5. Comfort. Invest in a pillow and/or mattress that’s comforting to you. This also helps eliminate muscle, nerve and joint pains especially headaches.

6. FAST. Try hard to avoid large meals close to bedtime as much as possible.

Proper training, proper nutrition and proper recovery (along with sleep) are all vital to our success as firefighters on the job and off. 

Until next time; work hard, stay safe & life inspired.

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 16 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor and currently a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

Embrace the Burpee

As we know and as we said in numerous blogs thus far, we are functional athletes and because of this, we place a significant emphasis on core stability and strength. This is one of the main purposes of functional fitness.

So where am I going with this? Well, what do elite athletes and military forces have i common?? They EMBRACE THE BURPEE!!

So what exactly is a burpee? A burpee is a calorie-torching, strength-building, full body exercise that can also be done anytime anywhere. The best part, it’s all about speed.

Tip: don’t start off fast, start slow and gradually build up a good pace.

Now why should us as firefighters embrace the burpee? Here are a number of reasons to embrace the burpee.

1. Total body fat torching exercise that burn up to 50% more body fat than moderate exercise.

2. Speeds up your metabolism. This will help burn calories even after the workout is finished.

3. It is the ultimate example of functional fitness and a total body workout. Burpees will hit your chest, back, biceps, triceps, gluteus, quads, hamstrings and abs.

4. This is a great way to condition your body for overall health. Conditioning and endurance training is key for all firefighters to keep your body healthy and ready. Also, this will get your heart rate up quickly for conditioning and endurance.

We spoke about why burpees are a good addition to firefighter fitness so now here are a few burpee exercises we can do:

1. 21-15-9-6-3
burpees, body squats, plyo-pushups.
This is a 5set workout starting with 21 reps (in order) with a min rest then 15 reps and so forth and so on until all 5 sets are complete.

2. Burpee-pull-up
Do a burpee in front of a pull up bar, then do a (jumping) pull up. As many as you can for time (time limit: 3min).

3. Burpee-push-up
Do a burpee and upon completion of the burpee do 1 push-up. Continue that sequence for 2min.

4. 100 burpee challenge. Aim for 100 burpees in 15min. Do as many as possible before taking a break then continue.

5. Burpee-sprint
Do 1 burpee then sprint 50yds and do another burpee. That’s one set. Do this for 5 sets. Rest 1 min between sets.

Take these workouts to your firehouse, your home, anywhere and have fun with them. These workouts can also be a great team building exercise as well with multiple benefits all in one. 

Please note: Always consult with your physician before getting into physical activities while recovering from any injury or surgery. It may not be the best treatment option after an injury or surgery or may be limited to particular modalities. 

Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.

 About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor and currently a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website. 

 

Benefits of Yoga in the Fire Service

As humans, regularly or daily exercise is important to our overall health. Studies have shown, it helps your improve the immune system, decreases stress levels and helps reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Overall, physical activity and exercise can have and improve immediate and long-term health benefits but most importantly, it can improve your quality of life.

With all that said, I would like to talk about yoga and it's benefits on us as firefighters and how it could improve our performance on the job, our health and general wellness.

According to the NFPA's "U.S. Firefighter Injuries - 2015", there were 68,085 reported injuries in the fire service in 2015. I would have used 2016 statistics but the report hasn't been released yet. So what does our health, exercise and NFPA injuries report have to do with yoga in the fire service?

Well the majority of the injuries in the report both fire ground and training were strains, sprains and muscle pains. Granted some injuries cannot be prevented, however we do have a chance at keeping our bodies healthy and fit for when it's time to do the job because let's face it, we are athletes. Function athletes at that. Our bodies could take a beating during training and on runs. It's up to you how well you prepare yourself. No one said 50lbs of gear including carrying tools would be easy to wear and operate in and  all in a functional manner.

With that being said, I would like to discuss the benefits of yoga and how incorporating this into your fitness regime could help benefit you as a firefighter also known as a function athlete. Mind you, I am not an expert and do not claim to be. I am only sharing my experiences with the exercise and how it can help us as firefighters on the job and off.

For thousands of centuries, people throughout the world have practiced yoga poses and techniques for health and well-being. Yoga brings together the mind and body in a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation. These have been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, relieve anxiety and depression, and improve chronic low-back pain. All of these have been found in firefighters at a high rate due to the stressors and physical and mental nature of the job while on duty or off.

Yoga itself is a form of healing exercise that can be very beneficial for improving function and flexibility. As mentioned throughout this article, we are functional athletes. Benefits of yoga for us as functional athletes can provide the following:

Raises heart rate - making it both a great cardio and fat burning workout

Works the muscles fully, but in a low impact way that doesn’t stress the joints as much as weight training

Increases cognitive function, coordination, and balance

Greater flexibility, reduced tension, and stress

With that said, this can improve our duration to work under tension as well as how we maneuver in our PPE and SCBA for long durations in and out of IDLH environments.

The intense styles of yoga, could also strengthen muscles throughout the body through various poses. By practicing yoga it is also a chance for you to give back to yourself with time spent in relaxation, contemplation, and reflection to energize your mind and soul. Mentality this is a great way to relief the stressors of the job and have a long, healthy career for yourself, your family and your crew.

Practicing yoga is generally safe for healthy individuals. However, if you have a health condition that can be exacerbated by heat or deep stretching it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before starting yoga or trying more intense styles. It is also important to find an instructor who will be mindful of your limitations and restrictions.

Here are a few poses you could try at home, on duty with your crew or at the gym:

Whether you're a beginner or a well-practiced yogi, these poses will stretch your body, open your mind, and bring you back to your center. Hold each pose for three - five breaths, or combine the postures into a routine, moving from one pose to another and repeating several times.

Balasana aka Child's pose

A restorative, forward bend pose. Aligning at the spine and stretching the hips, low back, and middle back, balasana is used as a resting position between more difficult poses.

1.Start on your hands and knees.

2.Sit back so that your hips are over the top of your ankles.

3.Allow your body to completely relax with your head on the floor.

4.Your arms can be lying back by your feet or outstretched above your head. Your knees can either be close together or spread apart.

5.Find what is most comfortable for you.

Bhujangasana aka Cobra pose

This position used to strengthen the vertebral column and to stretch the abdominal and shoulder muscles.

1.Start in a high plank (top of push-up).

2.Lower your body to the floor before pressing your upper body back up.

3.Straighten arms and arch your back while keeping your knees on the floor and squeezing your glutes.

4.Be mindful of any tension in your lower back and stop if you feel discomfort.

Adho Mukh Svanasana aka Downward Dog pose

A forward bend pose strengthening arms and legs, while stretching shoulders, hands, hamstrings, calves and arches of your feet.

1.Start in high plank (top of push-up).

2.Lift your hips to the ceiling, drop your heels to the floor, and push your chest back toward your knees.

Ardha Matsyendrasana aka Half Lord of Fishes pose

This is a seated, twisting, hip-opener that realigns and lengthens the spine. It also stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck.

1.In a seated position, bend your left knee and pull your left foot up to the outside of your right hip.

2.At the same time, cross your right foot over your left knee with the right knee pointing up.

3.Twist gently to your right by placing your left elbow outside your right knee and your right hand behind you on the floor.

4.Make sure to maintain a tall, straight spine.

5.Inhale and exhale as you twist as far as you are able without discomfort.

6.Repeat on the other side.

Virabhadrasana I aka Warrior One pose

A hip-opener as well as chest-opener pose, strengthening legs while stretching arms and legs.

1.Start in a high plank (top of push-up).

2.Step your right foot forward into a deep lunge.

3.Lifting your upper body straight up, continue lunging forward onto your right knee while tilting your upper body further back.

4.Raise arms above your head and sink your hips low, striving to maintain a straight back leg.

5.Repeat on the other side.

References:

NFPA - National Fire Protection Association 

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

National Institute of Health

CDC National Health Statistics Report

Yoga Journal

 About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 16 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor and currently a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website. 

Benefits of Massage Therapy for Firefighters

As we are already aware, firefighting is inherently dangerous. It is a profession that requires us to put our bodies on the line at any given moment. According to the NFPA, in 2015 alone, 68,085 firefighters injuries were reported in the United States. Out of the total reporter number of firefighter injuries, 29,130 (43%) were fire ground related and 7,560 (11%) were training related.

Sometimes we walk away unscathed, while other times we come back with a few bumps and bruises to say the least. But let's be honest, are we always working at 100% health? Maybe, maybe not.

Everything from the weight of our PPE, to the addition of our SCBA, to the tools and other accessories we may carry with us add weight which also weighs us down and causes our bodies extra physical stress as well as mental stress than our bodies are already under while performing our tasks.

Everything from physical fitness training, hands on fire ground training and any other type of training we may take part in adds loads of stress on us and let's not forget the daily routines of family and outside activities we are all apart of in our personal lives.

With that, one way we as emergency service personnel can reduce these stressors is through massage therapy. This can be done 1-2 times a month and based on your activity level, goals, lifestyle and general health, the frequency could change.

On a personal level and without getting into details, being in the fire service and an athlete of various levels I've had my share of injuries and a few surgeries and found massage therapy to be a beneficial way to reduce soreness and recover from minor injuries I've incurred along the way.

Here are a list of reasons (broken into 2 categories) why massage therapy is beneficial for us to add to our toolbox of physical and mental gains on and off the fire ground.

Overall Health & Wellness

• It aligns the spine and reduces pressure on nerves
• It relaxes your muscles and helps you to maintain good posture
• It relieves stress
• It improves your circulation
• It stimulates the body's secretion of endorphins
•Calming the central nervous system
•Elongating tight muscles
•Loosening toxins from the tissues for elimination

Injury & Surgery Recovery

•Reduce pain, minimizing the need for pain medication
•Inhibit swelling by moving lymph
•Break up scar tissue
•Hasten the healing process by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen

**Please note: Always consult with your physician before getting a massage while recovering from any injury or surgery. It may not be the best treatment option after an injury or surgery or may be limited to particular modalities.

Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.

About the Author  

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website. 

International Firefighters Day & the Feast of St. Florian

Today, May 4 is known as International Firefighters’ Day. It is a day to show support for all firefighters worldwide and take the time to remember those who lost their lives or injured while in the line of duty. 

According to the website firefightersday.org you can show support by wearing and displaying red and blue ribbons pinned together; red symbolizing fire and blue for water. These colors are know to represent emergency services internationally. Today we also honor EMTs. 

Today is also the feast day of the patron saint for firefighters, St. Florian. Here is a brief history on St. Florian:

Florian was born in the ancient Roman city of Aelium Cetiumin around 250 AD, which is now present-day Sankt Polten, Austria. He joined the Roman Army and advanced the ranks to commander of the Imperial Army in the Roman province of Noricum. One of his many duties was being responsible for organizing fire brigades. Florian organized and trained this elite group of soldiers in their sole duty of fighting fires.

During the time of the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians, Rome received reports that Florian was not enforcing the persecutionof Christians in his territory and thus was sentenced to death by fire.. While standing on the funeral pyre, Florian is said to have challenged the Roman soldiers to light the fire by saying “if you do, I will climb to heaven on the flames”. Apprehensive to his words, instead of burning Florian, they drowned him. His body was later retrieved by Christians and buried at an Augustinian monastery near Lorch.

Saint Florian was adopted as patron saint of Poland after Pope Lucius III consented to the request of King Casimir to send relics of Florian to that country. Soon after, a person was saved from a fire by invoking Saint Florian’s name. Since then, Florian has been invoked against fire and has generally been regarded in most countries as the patron saint of the fire service.

About the Author

 NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website

 

Perceptions. Life in the Public Eye

The other night on my way home from dinner with my wife, we decided to stop for a quick drink. I don’t know about anyone else, but every time I walk into any type of building or store I always take a quick survey around. I look at the atmosphere, type of clientele, décor, entrances, exits, and even the type of building construction. Shortly after we sat down I noticed a group of firefighters at the bar hanging out, drinking, and having a good time.

I was glad to see that they were getting along so well, and it was nice to see the wide range of ages within the group. Having friendships outside the firehouse is also a very good thing to have as it helps build a stronger connection and a more cohesive group. However, the question that is raised is how did I know they were firefighters? Well, the answer to that is actually simple. The group were all wearing company clothing; t-shirts, job shirts, and a few were even in full station wear uniform.

As the night progressed and I was enjoying my time with my wife I couldn’t help but notice the group of firefighters having beer after beer and shot after shot. They were getting louder and louder and rowdier and rowdier. It was unmistakable as to the fact that they were there and who they were.

The object of this post is not to put anyone down, make me out to be an angel, to rip on anyone. The object of this post is to try to bring the concept of Perception in the Public Eye to light. Hanging out with the guys and enjoying each other’s company and having a good time. There is a point though where you have to be smart about it.

The citizens we are responsible to protect call us in their hour of need. They know that if they need help the fire department will always be there. As public servants, we are often looked at in a different manner and all too often held to a much higher standard in the publics eyes. Anytime we are out in public wearing shirts, hats, jackets, job-shirts, uniforms, or anything related to our department we turn into walking billboards and automatically people start paying more attention to us, weather we know it or not.

As we all know, social media is a huge part of everyday life. Basically everyone has a camera phone and instant access to multiple different forms of social media platforms. By wearing any type of company attire while drinking and carrying on it opens yourself up for a ton of negative publicity. All it would take is one person to take a picture and post it to social media and spin a caption in a negative light. It doesn’t matter if what is posted is exactly what happened or not, what matters is people will see people in uniforms drinking and carrying on. Then every time they see someone in uniform they will remember what they saw.

It is alright to go out and have fun, everyone has to be able to have a good time. You just have to remember to be smart about it. Remember how you act and what you wear reflects not only on you, but your department, and the entire fire service family. Always try to conduct yourself as if someone is always watching, because when you are wearing company attire you are putting yourself under the microscope of public perception.

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the fire service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

Driver Training

Driver training is more than getting comfortable behind the wheel of the apparatus you're training on. This is the perfect time to go over apparatus placement in your frequent flyer locations and also your problem buildings (strip malls, apartment complexes, houses pushed back off the road, etc.). Getting practice at apparatus placement during training is helpful for when the call comes in - big or small. Remember placement is key for efficient fire attack and primary search. 

This also helps the chuefer become more accustomed of the streets in your primary response area, more identifiable of hydrant locations for easier access to them, along with your crew putting together initial preplans for the structures. This can prove good kitchen table discussions on strategies and tactics. 

Next time your company officer wants to take you out driver training, pay attention to the buildings you come across, size them up and begin some good kitchen table discussions later at the firehouse. 

IMG_1082.JPG

Until next time; work hard, stay safe and live inspired. 

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

Window Bars & the Set of Irons

Mostly found in urban areas but not uncommon in suburban or rural areas are window bars. These bars are common to private dwellings and often found on basement and first floor windows for security reasons.  

These bars present a multitude of problems for firefighters responding to calls at these locations. 

1. Delay in access to inside the structure.

2. Difficult to perform VEIS (Vent. Enter. Isolate. Search) 

3. Reduces means of egress for firefighters and victim removal should a window need to be used. 

Window bars have the tendency to turn room and content fires into multiple alarm fires and have created havoc for access to victims or down firefighters for reasons mentioned above; so for that reason lets discuss how to remove them quickly and efficiently using the set of irons. 

On type 3 brick buildings the bars are held in by expandable anchors. Holes are first drilled into the brick and the anchors are used to hold the bars in place around the window.

For wood frame structures (type 5) lag screws are usually used to hold the bars in place. 

For either structure, use the set of irons (axe & halligan) and destroy the screws and anchors holding the bars in place by forcing them with the adz end of the halligan driving the halligan with the butt (non blade side) of the axe. 

Should the fastening points be unattainable, split the frame using the halligan and pry the gate from the opening using the fork side of the halligan. 

If the bars are set into the brick, mortar or concrete use a sledge or any type of mauling tool and smash the area encasing the bars into the wall and pry the bars away from the window. Should it be out of reach, hooks are another tool we can use for prying away as well.

Don't let obstacles get in the way of protecting life and property. This was a couple ways we can gain entry to a building should we only have hand tools available to us. Relying heavily on gas and hydraulic tools can be costly and some times cause more damage than it's worth. The more efficient we are using hand tools the quicker we can get to work and get the job done. 

image.jpg

Until next time; work hard, stay safe and live inspired. 

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

Bulkhead Doors

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Some stairs in a bulkhead doors are sloped greater than normal sloped stairways thus causing increasing issues for crews to make entry due to its steeper incline should entry be warranted through such doors. On the other hand, these doors make great use for ventilation sources for below grade fires due to its easier and for the most part safer access when fighting below grade fires. They can be found in both resident and commercial structures.

Until next time; work hard, stay safe and live inspired. 

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

Fire Fact #2: The 2 1/2" Line: A Mainstay of the American Fire Service

The 2 ½” hose line has been in the fire service for decades. This is especially true for urban fire departments with big fires (large factories, high-rise office buildings and crowded residential neighborhoods) and abundance of manpower. Although some departments had retired the use of the 2 ½” the New York City Fire Department required it for all structural firefighting up until the late 1960s. During the 1960s and 1970s the country was hit with a financial crisis leading departments to abandon the use and also questioned the usefulness of the hose and began downsizing to small hose lines for heavy fire attack. 
Well as we all know the 2 ½” hose line is still alive and kicking today; so let’s learning more about the hose line. Using a 2 ½” Attack Line may be a daunting task and very difficult to maneuver throughout a structure.

Here are some benefits of using a 2 ½” line:
1.    Lower friction loss
2.    High fire flows
3.    Exceptional reach & penetration
4.    Heavy knockdown power

When to use:
1.    Heavy fire conditions regardless of occupancy
2.    Offensive attack isn’t safe or able to be conducted
3.    Large un-compartmentalized structures
4.    Unable to determine location, size or extent of fire
5.    High-rise buildings
6.    Large brush or trash fires

Something to consider: 
50 feet of a charged 2 ½” line weighs 106lbs and 50 feet of a charged 1 ¾” weighs 52lbs. Take into account your manpower as well when deciding your initial attack line. 

Until next time; work hard, stay safe and live inspired. 

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 15 years in the service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

The Importance of Clean PPE

We all love that fresh smell of smoke on our gear. It lets others know we been in a fire and the charred up shield on our helmets tell our stories of the fires we been in. The soot filled turnout gear and sometimes all over our hands and face; the smokey smell in our hair for days, all of that comes with territory of fighting fire. It’s great isn’t it? It’s almost like a rite of passage into the service.  

But is it something that’s costing us years of our time in the service and almost shortening our days with our families?

While on the job, we as firefighters come in contact with tons of carcinogens, toxins and diseases found in structure fires, car fires, as well as blood and bodily fluids which can be carried away in our turnout gear causing potential harm through ingestion, inhalation and/or absorption. As members of the emergency services, we are continually trained on those three routes of entry when refreshing ourselves on our yearly blood borne pathogens training each year. Firefighters are not the only ones to be at risk for contracting potential hazards that are left on our uncleaned gear. Anyone who has direct contact with the gear is also at risk.  This goes for the general public as well since we all know children love getting tours of our firehouses, seeing our apparatus and trying to fit into our gear and wear our helmets. By not keeping our gear clean, exposures to others are possible since we are also in direct contact with the general public. 

Turnout gear that has been worn on fire-related calls, and has been in contact with carcinogens without cleaning in between calls will diminish the gears ability to protect the firefighter. The soot and other related products of burning leave a number of material deposits on the surface of gear and in the fibers of the protective layers of the gears causing the surface of the gear to be less heat reflective. In the presence of oils and other flammable materials, the heat absorption on the surface of our gear, should this gear not have been cleaned prior to making contact, could potentially lead to re-ignition or flash over. When considering the less obvious type of soot - carbon based soot – increases conductivity when in contact with live wires, raising potential for electrical shock. 

Long term effects of dirty gear is quite simple, it doesn’t last as long as the manufacturers recommendation. The soot and other particles that were continually absorbed into the gear will begin to break down the shell of our gear and some of those particles and burn bits that are lodged in our gear can become abrasive causing rips and tears in our gear. Regular human movements and the bending and folding of the gear will cause the rips and tears in the gear abs wear out the fibers. Recommended cleaning of the shell of the gear is ever six months at minimum or more depending on how much contact we have with soot and other carcinogens to reduce the amount of abrasive particles picked up in our gear. So remember to wash your gear; keep yourself, your crew, your family and the general public safe. Just like we take pride in keeping our apparatus, our station and our tools clean, we should our turnout gear because it’s another tool to keep us safe. So take pride in looking your best on every run because we are always in the public eye!

Until next time; work hard, stay safe and live inspired. 

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 14 years of service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.

 

Fire Fact

According to studies, wood burns at 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit which is one degree hotter than gasoline which burns at 1,879 degrees Fahrenheit yet is much less than methanol also known as “wood alcohol” which burns at 2,190 degrees Fahrenheit; 310 degrees hotter than wood but in a normal atmosphere most materials will burn near the same temperature. (Source: NFPA 921, 2014 ed. Table 5.6.5.1.)

In a controlled setting this will stand true since burn times for each of these are vastly different as well as the heat release rate that is being produce by these as well. Temperatures are good to know but also knowing that the more the products of combustion in the room (their respective temperatures will still be produced) the greater the HRR and the greater fire flow needed.

That’s your fire tip of the week! For more on HRR and fire flow check out our article "Importance of Fire Flow in Today's Fire Service" on why an increased fire flow plays a tremendous part in cooling the products of combustion in today’s rapidly changing society.

How Are You Training?

We have all heard the saying “I’ve seen one fire; I’ve seen them all”. Well the saying really goes “I’ve seen one fire…I’ve seen one fire”. No two fires are the same but in this article we aren’t here to talk about fire behavior and fire science, we are here to talk about training. 

Each one of us knows a firefighter or two on their department that speaks like they know a whole lot about everything but in actuality the individual knows a whole lot about nothing. They seem to think after they get their minimum requirements by their respective state and meet departmental requirements they don’t need to do much more to better themselves on the job. Believe me, this isn’t all firefighters but there’s always an outlier in the group.

I know what you’re thinking. Why am I saying this?

I’m saying this because continual education is one of the most important aspects to the longevity of job.

In New Jersey, the state requires firefighters who enter the fire academy to fulfill 192 of initial training in the “Firefighter 1” Program before they can sit for the State Firefighter Exam along with an additional 120 hours of training in the “Firefighter 2” Program. Most departments in the state also require personnel to be EMT certified which requires a minimum of 210 hours of training. This consists of classroom, hands on training and ER (emergency room) time. 
In addition to this, most departments do require their personnel to have other types of training that is required by their respective department. Some of these courses include but are not limited to pump operations, incident management, officer training, technical rescue and any other specialized training that is specific to the work of their department.

EMTs in NJ who need to renew their certification are required to complete 24 hours of an EMT Refresher consisting of 3 modules over a 3-year period. Each module is a total of 8 hours of training; where each module contains a specific area that has to be covered. Module A contains airways, module B covers medical emergencies and module C covers trauma. 
Most departments require firefighters to have an annual refresher each year covering bloodborne pathogens, hazmat, ICS, SCBA refresher and your Right to Know annual refresher. 
Is this enough training for firefighters to keep fresh and up to date with changes and updates in the fire service? Why isn’t there a mandated requirement like EMTs have by covering certain areas in the same way the EMT Refresher does? 

As we know, departments are consistently doing refresher training on a variety of skills to keep their firefighters fresh and up to date on new standards and skills. Which, in my opinion is a very resourceful way to keep skills sharp while adding new ones. But here’s the next question, outside of required department training, what else are firefighters doing to better themselves on the job?  

I noted 3 areas of training that I live by in order to achieve my goals, with the 3 in my opinion being the most important, to do what I can to advance my firefighter career.
1.    Classroom training
2.    Hands on training
3.    Self-education

Education is a key to success but hard work and dedication opens the door to the advancement of your career. This is why I say self-education is the most important of the 3 areas of training. We all can go to our required training but can we all pick ourselves up and read a few books, watch a webinar, listen to a podcast or read articles in magazines or on websites that pertain to our job all during our valued and much needed time off? 
Let’s challenge ourselves to add at least one of these self-education areas into our personal toolbox and go above and beyond what is asked of us.

Until next time; work hard, stay safe and live inspired.  

About the Author

NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 14 years of service all within departments in Piscataway, NJ. Nick has held the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain as well as being a township elected District Fire Commissioner for 1 term (3 years) in Piscataway, NJ. He is also a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University working in Corporate Taxation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website.