Here I was sitting drinking some coffee and chatting with the incoming crew a bit about. Of course here and there we take jabs at each other. Myself and a few other firefighter are big guys, and we like to rip into the much smaller guys. Yes there are many benefits in being somewhat smaller in the fire service, but not always. What are some advantages of a heavyweight firefighter?
Heavy weight firefighters usually do not have to worry about being attacked, due to a heavyweight firefighters size, it’s a natural violence deterrent. They are usually very strong firefighters, and when it comes to lifting and moving victims/patients, it takes one or two rather than 3 or 4 smaller firefighters. Another benefit is that heavyweight firefighters simply look great, can’t beat that.
Fat Firefighter VS Fit Heavyweight Firefighter
Even though I love being a heavyweight firefighter, and I know most of my fellow colleagues that are big guys in the fire service feel the same way, I need to make something clear. When I say a heavyweight firefighter, I’m referring to firefighters who’s build is primarily muscle with some fat, not primarily fat with some muscle. I believe that there is indeed a performance difference when you carry around extra weight. I am well aware of this in myself, and I know the things I need to keep doing, as well as the things I need to avoid in order to gain bad weight. In this line of work, we have to both be physically strong, and have a decent cardio/stamina base. We’re already big, and we still need to be able to fit in small spaces and uncomfortable positions. If you have a lot of weight, and have nothing to show for in regards to strength or endurance, fix that. I focus on eating relatively healthy, and maintaining both my strength and cardio base.
Two Types Of Firefighters
You tend to have two types of firefighters in each and every department. You got your skinny marathon runner types of firefighters, and you got the silverbacks/ big strong firefighters. Both types are great, And in my experience, often it’s one or the other, sometimes a mix of both. The slimmer marathon runner types are typically able to perform tasks for longer periods of time, and don’t usually go through their SCBA bottles as fast, sometimes they struggle with some movements that require great strength. Although big strong firefighters may go through their bottles slightly faster, they are able to get work done quickly on the fireground because of the strength. I said what I said.
As I mentioned previously, one of our strengths is strength. There are so many activities on the fireground that require both a mix of strength and endurance in our muscles. Check out my other posts about ways to get strong for the fireground. For example, advancing a standard 2 ½ inch charged hose line up a few flights of stairs, requires A LOT of strength. Not only are you already carrying the weight of your turnout gear with the SCBA, but you are attempting to stabilize your body to not get pulled by the hose down the stairs, but at the same time push that same hose up the stairs.
Another activity that requires great strength is carrying heavy equipment as well as ladders to and from the necessary places on the fireground. Being able to do this over and over again is very important for both working fires and during overhaul.
You Look Great
This one is by far my favorite reason for being a big firefighter. You fill out your uniform well, you tend to be in much better shape and better looking than our law enforcement counterparts. We also look great on our calendars.
One of the best safety related benefits for me is the fact that being a big guy is a violence deterrent. One day when we were dispatched for a male that had called for medical help, we were dispatched with law enforcement because he tends to be very violent. When the patient saw me and our crew, he said, “dang, yall are some real big boys”. The patient was very calm and respectful. If the patient had intentions of being violent, our sizes deterred him from choosing us as his possible targets for violence. Check out my post about firefighters and self defense
Being a heavyweight firefighter is absolutely amazing, and just like anything else in life, it has it’s pros and its cons. We are strong, look great and tend to deter possible violent encounters.
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