The BIA Firefighter Fitness Challenge, based on the Bureau of Land Management challenge, provides a common system by which all firefighters from Indian Country who hold a red card can measure fitness goals, track improvement and receive recognition for their fitness efforts. The fitness challenge is voluntary, but all firefighters and other agency or tribal staff are encouraged to participate.
The Challenge tests participants in four basic exercises: push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and a timed run of either 1.5 or 3.0 miles. Test results are compiled into an overall score based on the scoring chart (see scoring chart).
Excellent physical fitness is essential to firefighter performance. Generally speaking, the limiting factor on work production in wildland firefighting is individual fitness. In addition, fatigue has been found to be a contributing factor in many accidents, and numerous studies have proven that physical fitness is a good way to mitigate fatigue. The 2006 study, "Contributing Factors for Line of Duty Deaths in the Unites States" (Moore-Merrell, McDonald, Zhou, Fisher and Moore) concluded that 53.9 percent of firefighter deaths are due to health, fitness, or wellness. Physical fitness is a critical job element for all firefighters and is annually tested with the Work Capacity Test (WCT). However, the WCT is extremely limited in scope, testing only cardiovascular fitness. The Challenge is designed to round out firefighter fitness and wellness programs.
All entrants should consider training for the fitness challenge. A well-rounded fitness program for wildland firefighters can be found at the NIFC FireFit website.
The BIA Fire Operations Fitness Challenge is voluntary. All participating BIA firefighters must meet the physical fitness requirements, medical examination requirements, and DOI Medical Standards Program requirements pertinent to their ICS position. BIA employees who are not firefighters and/or do not hold an arduous ICS fitness rating may participate provided they complete the Health Screening Questionnaire and have no pre-existing medical conditions.
Fitness Challenge Test Administration
A medical plan must be in place prior to the test in case first-aid assistance is needed.
The number of assistants should be based upon the number of participants.
Test administrators shall read a description of each exercise (see below) and demonstrate proper form prior to the test.
The individual test exercises are performed as follows:
- Pull-ups: Starting position is hanging from a bar, hands approximately shoulder width apart, arms fully extended with elbows locked. Hands can be palms away or palms facing the individual. Individual lifts the body until the chin is above the bar and returns to the starting position. This is one repetition. On each repetition the arms must be fully extended and the chin must clear the bar. No kipping or kicking is allowed. Count the number of pull-ups completed in three minutes or when the individual cannot maintain the starting position (lets go of the bar).
- Push-ups: Starting position is back straight and parallel with the ground, arms straight with hands approximately shoulder width apart and elbows locked. Individual lowers the body until the arms form a ninety degree angle and returns to the starting position with the arms fully locked. This is one repetition. The back must remain straight throughout the exercise. All resting must occur in the starting position. The buttocks are not allowed in the air in the starting position. The arms must be fully extended (elbows locked). Count the number of repetitions successfully completed in three minutes or when the starting position can no longer be maintained (arms collapsing, buttocks in the air).
- Sit-ups: Starting position is hands behind the ears, back on the ground, legs bent at a forty-five degree angle. Feet can be held by a person or a fixed object. The individual raises the back until the elbows touch the legs, then returns to the starting position (shoulder blades touch the ground). This is one repetition. Exercise mats may be used for padding. Count the number of repetitions completed in three minutes.
- 1 ½ mile or 3 mile run: Conducted on flat, smooth surface.
- Exercises may be completed in any order
- Each callisthenic event must be completed within three minutes
- Maximum break between events is seven minutes
- A ten minute warm-up is allowed before the run
- An individual may test multiple times, but scoring will always be based on the results of a single testing event, not on individual exercise scores from separate testing events.
Scoring, Recognition and Awards
Based on the scoring chart, four levels of achievement may be reached. These levels are recognized by the Mens Sana in Corpore Sano (Sound Mind in a Sound Body) award, which consists of a personalized certificate and patch. The patch will note the level of achievement.
Levels of Achievement:
- Bronze - 100 points with a minimum of 25 points in each event
- Silver - 200 points total
- Gold - 300 points
- Platinum 400 points total
All tests will be administered and certified at the unit level by the unit fire management officer or delegate. Unit fire managers seeking national recognition for high performing employees should send pertinent results to Tony Beita, Wildland Fire Safety Specialist no later than June 30.