In order to be in the fire service, each person needs to have a level of dedication to the job and a level of respect for the job. A few years while training in marital arts I had the opportunity to train with a professional MMA fighter, who at the time was in the UFC. Currently, this fighter who I won't mention is now retired from active competition. During this time, I would only train on the techniques while at school I trained at 3 days a week. That was until I met and trained with this pro fighter who did train with former UFC Middleweight and Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. While training with him, I learned tons of techniques, gain valuable tips and other tidbits of information I could use in competitions and also in other facets of my life especially as a firefighter. Along with the information he shared, he asked me one question. "How would I train if no one was watching?" He went on further to say, because we all want to put on a show when the cameras are on us. After that conversation, those words had me reevaluate my training to see if I had that same level of enthusiasm and dedication as I did when I was training by myself or with other people outside the MMA gym and off the baseball field. To be honest, it wasn't as fulfilling and once our training was over, that question changed my course and enhanced my personal wellbeing and dedication to my crafts.
Why am I telling this story? Because just as a professional athlete will train with or without an audience, us too as firefighter should train.
This fighter made mention that no matter where he was training he dedicated himself 100% each time he was in there. It didn't matter if the coaches were around or he was alone, he made sure it was everything he had for that session. Cellphones, selfies and social media were nonexistent to him while he was training and for obviously reasons, the work paid off and never took any of it for granted.
Since those training sessions, I took that advise and used it for myself as a firefighter and would like to share them with you.
Dedicate yourself to the job in the firehouseand also when out of the firehouse. Utilize as many resources as you could to better yourself as a firefighter. Do not just attend certification courses at a fire academy but also read educational books (which my book shelf is now loaded with), understand the changes in the service and how you could adapt to them. To go even further, attend fire service conferences with or without departmental funding so you could attend seminars, see new advancements and network. Networking pay huge dividends when it comes to advancing yourself and gaining wealth's of knowledge from fire service leaders. Also, read and stay on top of NIOSH reports in order to understand the line of duty deaths and the findings reported after the investigations. Make your body your machine and develop a healthy lifestyle through physical and mental fitness along with proper nutrition for an optimal lifestyle worthy of the functionally fit firefighter. Always ask yourself, would you want YOU rescuing YOU?
Fire doesn't care of your status, career, part time, per diem or volunteer so why should you train yourself as if it's a job I just need to get through to retirement or a volunteer gig I do as a hobby?
Think about why you started with in the first place. What made you sign up for this?
To be successful and dedicated to the fire service it takes hundreds of thousands of hours of dedication and commitment to the books, in the gym, in the firehouse and on your own time to be a battle ready, battled tested firefighter. The time to prepare isn't when the bell rings because then it's too late. To be battle ready is to always stay battle ready.
Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.
About the Author
NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 17 years in the fire service in Piscataway, NJ, a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor, a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website. A martial arts practitioner and former collegiate athlete in baseball, Nick is also a National Exercise & Sports Trainer Association Battle Ropes Instructor, Functional Fitness Instructor and Nutrition Coach. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University, and a A.A.S in Liberal Arts - Business from Middlesex County College. Nick has spoken at the 2017 & 2018 Firehouse Expo in Nashville, TN as well as at numerous fire departments within NJ and fire service podcasts.