FRIDAY FORUM: WHY are you running?

So, why do you run on the fireground?

“Because I saw some hardcore dudes on social media who I’m pretty sure go to a lot of fires sprinting everywhere and I took an oath and if I don’t run I’m not doing everything for THEM because that’s what we do!”

Not the answer I was looking for. Like many things in the fire service these days, the WHY has been lost, as has been the ability to THINK through problem sets. There is a time to run. There is a time NOT to run. Let’s get into the why.

First, the objective: Successful extinguishment and rescue if necessary. You have to know what your goals are.

Second, the pros: running, assuming you don’t step in a hole or trip over any number of things, will generally shorten the time it takes to cover a distance.

Third, the cons: running will, unequivocally, elevate your heart rate. There is a direct correlation between elevated pulse and all sorts of negative impacts on human performance (decrease in cognitive ability, auditory exclusion, tunnel vision, to name a few), not to mention that once your heart rate becomes elevated while in turnout gear, it is very difficult to bring it back down without at least removing your helmet, SCBA and coat.

The firefighter is therefore left with a cost benefit analysis: will a decrease in time outweigh the negative impacts on performance to accomplish my objective? Every fire is different, and if you want to exercise wisdom and discipline on the fireground, you should be subconsciously answering this question at each alarm.

The goal is not to say running on the fireground is evil, but to challenge you to THINK about why you’re doing it. Personally, I go to great lengths to keep my pulse low as long as possible, knowing it will inevitably rise. There is a time for everything, but you better know your why…

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