What Are Your Bad Habits?

By: Christopher Brennan

So I gave myself a new rule, “No looking at the computer after 10pm.”  I decided that I didn’t need to start reading things 10 minutes before bed that got my brain turning over a problem to the point where I have to get out of bed and go write.  I love writing.  I love thinking about how to be the best possible Fire Service Warrior.  However, I also like getting a full night’s sleep.  Then this comment was posted at 9:45 tonight in response to “Manifestos Seem So Unabomber…”

Great posts as always. I’m a little confused about who made the CPAT suggestion as an annual fitness test.

At any rate, I disagree. I think we should set the standards higher.

The CPAT is an absolute joke. No offense. It’s a highly political test, set to the lowest possible standard.

I’ve seen plenty of fat bodies (and small bodies) pass the CPAT, often barely.

If we truly want to embrace the the physical culture of the warrior ethos we must hold our people to a much higher standard. Something along the lines of passing the Combat challenge in full PPE on air (to a single time standard, non gender specific) would be a much better standard to hold ourselves.

Remember, if we want to call ourselves WARRIORS…we must walk the talk, and most importantly respect those who truly ARE warriors and must continually earn the right to maintain that title.

You don’t see many lardass SEALS, Rangers, Recon Marines, PJ’s, or SF guys out there. They meet the physical performance standards continuously through the training pipeline and into their careers, or they don’t make the cut, PERIOD!!!  – TravisR.

First the suggestion that the CPAT be an annual exam was mine.  I agree with Travis that it is a minimum standard.  It is a minimum standard though that two major Fire Service organizations have agreed upon.  If we could get it made a minimum requirement for continued operational time riding on an Engine, Truck, Squad, Rescue, or other line company, a requirement for anyone who is going to wear an SCBA, I would venture to guess that we would see a reduction in Line of Duty Deaths because of Heart Attack and Stroke.  Having a minimum fitness standard of any sort that we expect people to meet would help us start building a culture of fitness in the Fire Service.

The work of Barbara Ainsworth on Metabolic Work shows us that Firefighters expend metabolic energy at the same level as Navy SEAL Combat Swimmers, and professional boxers.  We wrap ourselves up in turnout gear and SCBA and perform a combat mission every time we enter a burning building. While I would love to see everyone of us reach an elite level of fitness, I also think we have to do a reasonable task analysis to define what that level must be at a minimum level.  The CPAT has done a reasonable job of setting that standard.

What we need to do is work on eliminating the culture of mediocrity that pervades firehouses.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”  Are you making a habit of excellence? Are you thinking every day about how to improve yourself as a firefighter?  How to help the team?  That’s what we are talking about when we say someone is a good Brother or Sister.  There are far too many people who worry about themselves first in this world, and we have our share of them in the fire service.  Folks who will talk long and hard about how they are owed consideration, respect, or deference for a host of reasons: rank, time-in-grade, seniority.

I’ve noticed an interesting thing in my travels, those folks who make excellence a habit in their lives don’t demand respect of others; they don’t think they are owed anything.  They demand much of them self, but when it comes time to go to work they earn the respect of their co-workers, junior or senior, their leaders, and their subordinates by being great at what they do.  So, are you cultivating excellence as a habit?  If you haven’t, it isn’t too late.  It’s a new year.

Step up to the plate: work out, so you are more likely to go home when your shift is over; drive like a responsible human being and wear your seat belt; wear your SCBA – I speak from the experience of seeing cancer first hand it sucks – we are killing far more Brothers and Sisters from occupational cancer than we are in flashovers and collapses; Train every day.

It’s a new year.  Make it your resolution to be a Fire Service Warrior.  Be Ready.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.