Wilmington firefighters perform their annual fitness test at Cape Fear Community College North
Campus in December 2019. Captain R.F. Burton carries a bundle of fire hose up several flights of
stairs. Master firefighter Chris Small evaluates Ryan Kraft as he drags a mannequin for the rescue
portion of the test. Kraft drags a fire hose.
VEN THOUGH THE SERIOUS WORK of being a firefighter requires full gear, most of the workouts
at Station 8 are conducted in shorts and T-shirts.
“When we’re on shift it’s more about consistency than intensity,” Nelson says. “We don’t want
to wear ourselves out and then have to go fight a fire. This time of year it’s not so bad. But in the
summertime when it’s 90 degrees out you don’t want to get out here and get yourself really, really
hot and then go and have to fight a fire.”
Turnout gear is incorporated more at Wrightsville Beach.
“At some point we’ll do a full gear workout that’s a combination of cardio and some strength
and functional fitness,” Proffitt says.
Proffitt often works out on his own in full gear.
“I’m probably more so than anyone else someone who trains extensively in my gear,” he says. “I’ll do a ruck walking with a
weighted rucksack in full turnout gear. Sometimes there will be a time goal, sometimes there will be a distance goal, sometimes
a heart rate goal. I’m always changing it up. I’ll do it on a treadmill on an incline, or around the park. Sometimes if I’m not on
shift I’ll do the Loop in full gear. Sometimes it’s Olympic lifts in full gear. When you are in gear, it’s a different animal. Your
skin is not able to breathe, you’re not getting your perspiration to cool your body off. It quickly increases your body heat.”
Whether lifting weights, jumping up on two-foot-high boxes, or running the Loop in full gear, the goal for these athletes is
the same. Get and stay fit, because lives are on the line.
WBM february 2020