Train in Gear: Courage over Comfort

I am a professional Firefighter with over 3 years in operations; one of the most noblest professions I have had the honor bestowed upon me. And I do have significant experience in related fields, as I’ve seen courage and cowardice on the battlefield and on the fire-grounds. How do we as a fire service combat such? From my perspective, it's a simple and elegant answer, we Train in Gear.

"I believe in my perspective and it is given with great humility." So, believe me when I say, I want all the smoke.

Firefighter Erik Vidal training on the assault bike in full turn out gear. Photography. by Captain Rick Stephens.Firefighter Erik Vidal  taking a quick break to catch his breath after performing flights of stairs in full turn out gear, on air.

The first key component of addressing a problem is awareness, recognizing that a problem indeed does exist. In my short tenure, I’ve become aware of an ever growing epidemic within the fire service that has to be addressed; the lack of physical fitness preparedness amongst firefighters and the deficiency of discipline required to "train in gear".  

Firefighter Erik Vidal taking a break after a morning of Training in full turn out gear with Captain Rick Stephens. Photo by Melissa Mederos.

Training in Gear is a way of life. I have often heard the phrase “you can never train too much for a job that can kill you”, and that is the realest statement to be said. Training in gear prepares you for the fire-grounds. It acquaints you with the harsh realities of the environment, the unforgiving fire, heat and smoky conditions, while bearing the additional load. Not to mention, the great responsibility of putting on the coveted uniform. Such as donning your turnout gear, putting on your pack, strapping on your mask, slipping on your nomex, adjusting your helmet, clipping in, and going on air into an IDLH environment, with all the confidence because you trust your training, the hardships you've endured and the resilience you've cultivated.

Firefighter Erik Vidal training 110 floors of stairs in full turn out gear, on air. Photography by Melissa Mederos.It is said that the actual fire ground is not the place  where we become aware of our limitations. We should become aware of our limitations while training, and in order to be comfortable in an uncomfortable and ever changing environment, you have to willingly submit yourself to training in gear. There’s an elegance to endure such suffering, “stack on the suffering” is a popular phrase in the fire community that resonates with like-minded individuals. One should never hesitate to be in the actual arena to test your boundaries and limits. The work starts in the lab. We must confront danger and fear with courage because retreating to comfort is not an option. 

It is our duty, honor the oath. 

So the choice is yours: are you choosing courage or comfort?


Follow me on YouTube to watch my Training in Gear: Train In Gear Youtube


Firefighter Erik Vidal of Uncivil Apparel and Firefighter Julian Serrano The Firefighter Coach, founder of Prepared to Fight Fire    Firefighter Erik Vidal, owner of Uncivil Apparel, training in full turn out gear, on air. Photography by Rick Stephens Photography.


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