Becoming Physically Ready to be a Firefighter In Australian
How to be a Firefighter in Australia in Regards to the Physical Demands
Part One: The Dummy Drag
Competition is very high in the fire service industry. According to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services website, up to 1500 applicants arrive for 24 places in their training facilities. That’s over a 98% rejection rate.
To become one of the 2% of accepted applications, you should be physically prepared in advance.
While physical fitness isn’t the only test run on potential firefighters, it is a primary prerequisite to becoming a firefighter. In the Northern Territories, you will be expected to lift and drag a 75kg dummy bag around an obstacle course. This is to simulate your ability to carry an injured person to safety. Struggling to do so, even in the slightest, will have you disqualified and you will have to wait months to try out again.
To practise the dummy drag at home, you can purchase an oversized duffle bag. Fill it with sand until it’s the appropriate 75 kg weight and use a bungee cord to make handles. Drag your sandman for 30 metres at a minimum. Once you have the hang of this, increase the weight by 10 kg. With a few rounds of practice with your overweight sandman, a dummy drag will feel easy.
There are two methods: a backwards, two-handed pull or a forward, one-handed pull. Both are acceptable, with the one-handed pull being harder but quicker if you can accomplish it. One-handed will be more tiring on your one arm, bearing the whole weight, but the extra distance between you and the dummy will allow your legs more room to push.
The next important realisation that many candidates don’t realise about the dummy drag is the physics of the test, in particular the momentum component. Newton’s first law of motion is that an object at rest prefers to stay at rest. Every time the dummy stops moving, it will sap your energy even more to get it started again. By training your endurance and focusing on never stopping, you can finish the dummy drag with less effort than those who are stronger and don’t know the physics.
When turning around obstacles, remember to pass the obstacle far enough so the dummy does not get caught on it. The edge of the obstacle should be past the dummies’ knees before you start the corner. Every centimetre of dummy that touches an obstacle increases its drag, therefore increasing the energy it takes to keep the dummy in motion. We’ve already covered why you should never stop, but it’s doubly important near an obstacle. Friction increases when the surface area of an object touching other objects is increased, and it is friction that you must overcome to get the dummy moving again.
Brute strength can get you through this test, but being smart about your dummy drag will make you shine in the eyes of your tester. Standing out positively is the best way to begin your journey to being a firefighter in Australia.