If you think all firefighters do is lounge around in air-conditioned settings, watching television while they wait on the opportunity to fly out of the fire station to a raging blaze, then think again.

The city of LaFayette’s Fire Department, located at 208 N. Main St., is home to some firefighters that take physical fitness training very seriously — every day.

Lt. Michael Cook was on-hand on Friday, Aug. 9 to show just how seriously the entire department takes their training, pointing out the 208-pound tractor-sized tire they use as a training tool for building up arm strength. After all, these guys have to be able to lift a person who might be unconscious in a burning house and that dead weight might weigh even more than the tire they carry from one end of the street to another.

The tire is first flipped over and over by one firefighter down a long stretch of road not accessible to traffic, and when he gets to the end of that road another firefighter is waiting to pick it up and carry it physically back down to the opposite side of the road.

The routine (flipping it over and then carrying it back) is repeated by each firefighter five times and then followed by five sets of 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises: stair-stepping (using a tall concrete block), mountain climbs (again using available surfaces), and jumping jacks.

The department’s personnel seem motivated to be doing this strenuous workout in the heat of the day instead of pumping iron in an air-conditioned gym and Chief Meeks shares why:

“They have a very, very physical job, which is why our guys take their physical training so seriously. They have to pass annual physical training tests at the state level for certification purposes, with only so much allotted time to do so, and these exercises and tests are directly related to their specific job functions.”

Chief Meeks reminds that fire fighters work under intense conditions, battling very hot blazes while being dressed in hot and extremely heavy firefighting clothing and gear, to protect them from these circumstances. Therefore, he says, this makes it all the more imperative that the firefighters train the same way: in the heat, carrying heavy items, and for long periods of time.

“As long as there is not a call to respond to, we provide the time for them to train while they are on the job,” Meeks said. “And all of them are faithful to do it, taking their training very seriously.”

The physical agility test in Georgia requires firefighters to be able to carry a mannequin dummy 50-feet in a timed exercise, but with a dummy that weighs slightly less than the 208-pound tire the LaFayette firefighters are currently using.

Other timed tests include carrying a stretch of hose up a flight of stairs and back down; using an axe on a wooden surface in the same way required to create a ventilation during a real fire; as well as being able to handle a charged 100-foot hose line for 50-feet and more.

LaFayette’s firefighters seem to be doing everything they should to meet these challenges at the state level and at home during firefighting needs of the city. In fact, Lt. Bailey said on Saturday that “we were just working out in training when I heard the phone ring.” And he didn’t sound out of breath at all.

Interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter for the LaFayette Fire Department? Chief Meeks says they are always looking for qualified volunteers, but you will have to be able to meet the same rigorous physical standards as the current firefighters if you are interested. For more information call the fire department at (706) 639-1555.

Jan Morris is assistant editor for the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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