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Firefighter Health & Wellness: Sizing Up the Best Fire Rescue Workout Programs

fire rescue workout programs

Although fire departments across the nation are implementing fire rescue workout programs to keep their companies fit and prepared for duty, some are more effective than others. Aaron Zamzow of Fire Rescue Fitness breaks down the key points that every firefighter should keep in mind, including how to succeed when embarking on one of these fire rescue workout programs.

A 26.2-mile marathon awaits you in the morning. You’ve trained six days a week for this excursion, bulking up your pecs, chiseling your biceps, and perfecting your abs. You show up to the marathon with a toned upper body straight out of ancient Roman mythology that would make even the contestants on American Gladiators burn with envy.

One mile into the race you feel your legs tighten as a swarm of lesser-toned runners pass you by. You quizzically wonder where you went wrong; you’re in the best shape of your life but not even a tenth of the way into this thing and the buzzards are already circling. So what went wrong? Although you were in tip-top shape, the reality is you simply didn’t train properly for the physical demands of the challenge at hand.

fire rescue workout programs

Fire Rescue Fitness, owned and operated by Aaron Zamzow, has created a vast collection of fire rescue workout programs designed to keep firefighters “fit for duty.”

Just ask Aaron Zamzow, fitness expert and firefighter for the City of Madison Fire Department and founder of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company that specializes in products, services, and informational blogs with the goal to keep firefighters fit for duty.

When Zamzow first joined the service, he found himself out-muscled, outmaneuvered, and generally out-everything’d despite being the definition of fit. That’s because, as Zamzow recalls, he hadn’t trained for anything that firefighters regularly do. “I’m the Rudy of the fire service. I wasn’t trained for the firefighter work. I was getting beat by out-of-shape firefighters who smoke three packs a day.”

The hard reality is that if firefighters are not prepared for the rigorous physical demands that they’ll encounter on a daily basis, then they’ll soon find themselves just as out of breath and deflated as Zamzow was. For all intents and purposes, firefighters are occupational athletes. Lifting, crawling, pulling, hoisting, carrying; it’s an overtly physical job and there’s a lot to train for. But how firefighters train and prepare for those tasks is what’s so crucial. Tom Brady, for example, will train differently for his job than Serena Williams. Usain Bolt likely won’t be found doing Zumba and LeBron James probably doesn’t have much use for Crossfit. That’s not to say one training regimen is superior to the other, but your workout program should incorporate the movements that will set you up for career success.

Zamzow cites astonishingly hollow fitness programs that market themselves specifically for firefighters as a reason for his rude awakening. Such programs are wrapped in a pretty bow but fail to address the necessary physical trials that firefighters will have to go through. “I bought one of those programs and found it was nonsense,” recalls Zamzow. “There are a lot of false programs out there but you have to ask what makes it a firefighter program? Why is it geared toward firefighters?”

That’s where Zamzow decided to take matters into his own hands and developed a list of five key points that firefighters should take into consideration when evaluating their own fire rescue workout programs:

1) Developmental progression: Approach your program with the intent to gradually increase the intensity of exercise, which in turn will increase your strength and muscular development.

2) Make core strength a priority: 50% of firefighters will hurt their backs while on duty during their careers and lower back pain is the number one reason they retire early. Dedicate more time to core strength as you develop your program.

3) Focus on cardiovascular conditioning and recovery: Running and biking will get you from point A to point B, but interval training can bolster your cardiovascular conditioning. Because firefighters operate at 115-150% the normal heartrate, conditioning your body to respond to an increasing amount of stress is critical. Intervals call for a short burst of high intensity exercise (30 seconds, for example) followed by ample time to rest and recover (60-120 seconds).

4) Full-body functional strength exercises: Functional exercises are an approach to core training that increase balance around joints and help prevent injury by stimulating and stabilizing muscles.

5) Engage in active warm ups and flexibility training: Such activities prepare the body for movements, boost heartrate, and increase blood flow to the muscles.

The problem with implementing these types of fire rescue workout programs, Zamzow states, is that health, wellness and fitness in the fire service are relatively new concepts. As recently as ten years ago these types of fundamentals simply didn’t exist, but with the epidemics of cancer and poor health infiltrating the service, there’s been no better time than now to create a plan.

As with all grand plans, it’s important to start simple. Zamzow recommends foam rollers as the biggest bang for your buck as they allow you to use your own body weight to massage through adhesions that may occur in the muscles. This allows blood to flow more freely and encourages efficient healing and repairing.

“Now is the time to make a positive change in our industry,” said Zamzow. “Eat right, exercise, hydrate and set up an example for the community. Stay safe and train like a life depends on it.”

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

fire rescue workout programsAaron Zamzow is a firefighter and EMT for the City of Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin. He is also a degreed personal fitness trainer and author as well as the owner of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company dedicated to creating products and blogs focused on keeping firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics in top physical condition and “fit for duty.” He has 12 years of experience as a firefighter/EMT and another 20 as a fitness expert, training with elite athletes and studying with some of the top trainers in the world.

Learn How West Metro Fire Protection District Optimizes Drill-Yard Exercises with TargetSolutions

West Metro Fire Protection District (Colorado), winner of the 2016 Vanguard Award, maximizes its use of TargetSolutions to manage and track training, optimize drill-yard exercises, deliver valuable pre-course work and much more. 

Over the course of three days, Vector Solutions clients from across the country came together for the 2017 Client Summit to discuss the future of training and eLearning. During the Summit, longtime TargetSolutions user, Division Chief of Training Dan Pfannenstiel, reflected on how the West Metro Fire Protection District (Colorado) utilizes the training platform.

West Metro has relied on TargetSolutions’ online training management system since May 2012. In 2016, TargetSolutions recognized the department’s dedication to innovative tdrill-yard exercisesraining with the prestigious Vanguard Award. West Metro’s progressive approach to maximizing their training resources earned them this well-deserved recognition.

Pfannenstiel attributes his department’s training success to TargetSolutions’ robust course library, customizable content and flexible training hours. As a result of using TargetSolutions for pre-training, West Metro is able to make the most of its hands-on training time. The benefits are clear: online pre-training effectively prepares West Metro’s firefighters for what’s to come during drill-yard exercises and communicates what is expected of them. “An area we use strongly is the concept of loading the learner with pre-knowledge prior to them coming down,” said Pfannenstiel. “They get the opportunity to learn for the first-time and gain that knowledge or refresh their knowledge base through that online delivery system.”

Pfannenstiel praises TargetSolutions’ pre-training activities as an “opportunity for us to help prime people for when they come down so that training is more valid and useful, and they get a chance, through customized content, to see it done right in our own environment.”

For any questions about how TargetSolutions’ powerful online training management system can help your department, please contact us today (800) 840-4048!

Five Ways TargetSolutions Improves Fire Department Training Management

Various firefighter training requirements can be costly, complex and time-consuming, but TargetSolutions’ revolutionary records management technology makes all of those drawbacks a thing of the past.

When it comes to firefighter training technology, TargetSolutions is at the forefront. What used to take a battalion of officers several days (or even weeks) to accomplish can now be completed before lunch with a few simple clicks.

TargetSolutions, established in 1999, is the undisputed leader in matching up technology with the ever-growing list of firefighter training requirements. With its sleek interface, innovative features, and a massive library of engaging training courses, it’s no mystery why more than 2,000 fire departments nationwide call the powerful TargetSolutions online training management system their own.

Here are five ways you can benefit from TargetSolutions’ online training management system:

  • Track every hour of online, instructor-led, or hands-on training
  • Deliver more than 450 hours of fire department training, including 160 hours of EMS recertification
  • Ensure compliance with mandatory SOPs and other policies with e-signatures
  • Simplify ISO training audits with powerful record keeping system
  • Streamline training for personnel with 24/7 and mobile compatibility

To learn more about TargetSolutions, please contact us today at (800) 840-8046.

Meet Washington’s OTEP Recertification Requirements with TargetSolutions

TargetSolutions’ computer-based training system provides an efficient, effective way for agencies to meet EMS continuing education requirements.

TargetSolutions’ EMS continuing education training courses can be applied toward Washington’s ongoing training and evaluation program (OTEP) requirements. TargetSolutions offers a vast library of EMS training for first responders of all levels to complete EMS recertification. Dynamic online courses are delivered in an engaging format featuring scenario-based learning exercises. The industry’s leading Credentials management application makes it easy to track progress.

In addition to the ability to meet OTEP requirements, TargetSolutions features the following benefits:

  • More than 160 hours of EMS courses for all provider levels
  • Organizationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE)
  • Powerful tools for tracking ISO training hours and EMS recertification
  • Trusted by more than 2,000 fire departments nationwide

If you would like more information about TargetSolutions, please fill out the form and a TargetSolutions representative will be in touch. If you would like to reach your regional sales manager, please contact us at (800) 840-8046.

The Top 5 Questions Asked During the Purchasing Process for Cities and Municipalities

TargetSolutions is built to streamline training for local government and public entities. Often times during the purchase process we’re asked questions about the cost of eLearning, how the implementation process is and what to expect during the onboarding process. So, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 questions asked during the purchasing process. 

Thousands of public entities across the country rely on TargetSolutions to ensure employees are prepared to perform safely and efficiently in their work environment.

If you are considering TargetSolutions for your agency, we’ve got answers to your organization’s most frequently asked questions:

How Will TargetSolutions Fit into Our Budget?

TargetSolutions does not believe one size fits all when it comes to training and understands the challenge to deliver cost-effective training for thousands of employees. Using TargetSolutions, you can develop a plan that accommodates your agency’s size and budget without sacrificing quality of training. TargetSolutions offers more than 1,000 online courses for public entities and saves organizations time and money with training available 24/7. Compare how much you can save with TargetSolutions vs. traditional training methods with the ROI Calculator.

Can TargetSolutions Be Used as an LMS?

Yes. TargetSolutions is a complete Learning Management System (LMS). TargetSolutions’ online training and records management system allows agencies to deliver, track and report all types of training from a single platform. This all-in-one solution features an extensive course library to ensure the right people fulfill standards for OSHA, HR, driver safety and more. In addition to delivering content, TargetSolutions streamlines communication and centralizes employee training data with a revolutionary recordkeeping application. We are in an era where eLearning for local governments has never been more efficient.

Can TargetSolutions Track License and Certification Expiration Dates?elearning for local governments

Yes. With TargetSolutions, you’ll never have to second-guess employees’ qualifications to perform essential tasks. TargetSolutions has the capabilities to track all forms of training to help you manage compliance in just a few clicks. In the TargetSolutions platform, you can build credential packages with custom and standardized content that satisfies state and federal requirements. Managing expirations is also simple with automated reminders for individuals to complete credential training before their licenses expire. It also allows you to oversee all of your employees’ progress by generating specific, intuitive reports.

Does TargetSolutions Support Third-Party Content?

Yes. In addition to TargetSolutions’ course catalog of safety and compliance training, you can use TargetSolutions to deliver your own policies, create custom content and access employee data from HRIS. To improve communication across the agency, you can attach policies and additional documents to courses and activities for users to read. Compatible file types include doc, ppt, pdf, mov, mp4, SCORM and more! Platform managers have the options to assign custom-built activities or upload SCORM files for employees to access as a TargetSolutions course.

What Is TargetSolutions’ Implementation Process?

TargetSolutions operates as a Software as a Service (SaaS). From day one, you will have a TargetSolutions account manager to help with anything your agency needs to train effectively – whether it be your platform setup, the implementation of courses and custom activities, or support for any questions you may have. There is no software installation required. Once your agency’s site is ready, employees only need a web-enabled device that meets the system’s requirements to start training.

Are you interested in learning more about our eLearning for local government training program? Take a look at our download library.

For more questions about eLearning for local governments or TargetSolutions’ online training catalog for cities & municipalities, contact us online or by phone at (800) 840-8048!

 

Protect Your Network and Private Data with TargetSolutions’ Computer Security Awareness Training Course

TargetSolutions’ Computer Security Awareness training course is an hour-long lesson that focuses on the fundamentals of cyber security.

A recent study found that every individual record that is compromised or stolen as part of a data breach costs an organization an average of $158. In the event of a breach of more than 10,000 records, the total costs can swell to hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. Even with strict protocols in place, computer security awareness is something that all employees need to be aware of. With an endless supply of viruses, worms, malware, and hackers looking to illegally gain access to sensitive information, it should always be a top priority to ensure that your data is safe and secure.

TargetSolutions’ Computer Security Awareness online training course covers the essentials of cyber security and offers tips to avoid intrusive data breaches and damaging phishing attacks. Consisting of 10 learning modules followed by a 10-question exam, this course offers a solid overview of cyber security to users of all skill levels.

“Computer security should be everyone’s responsibility. One bad move can potentially cripple an entire network, so it’s important that your entire organization is on the same page when it comes to keeping your data and personal information secure.”

Bryan Fitzgerald, Content Manager, TargetSolutions

Topics of this course include:

  • Defining computer security
  • Explaining why it is essential to have knowledge of and practice computer security both at home and in the workplace
  • List and define the different types of security threats computer usage presents
  • Define and differentiate between the various types of malware
  • Identify and implement basic protective strategies one uses to practice computer security

TargetSolutions also offers a premium selection of IT & Security training courses designed to help IT personnel operate their organization’s front- and back-end technology at an optimum level. This dynamic, video-based training provides results-driven courses as well as skills prescribed by certification authorities, including Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA and others.

For more information on Computer Security Awareness or of our premium line of training courses, please contact TargetSolutions today at (800) 840-8048.

PTSD in the Fire Service: Escaping a Personal War Zone

fire service ptsd

For generations, fire service PTSD has been an unspoken and largely undiagnosed condition. However, understanding the circumstances that trigger fire service PTSD can lead to treatment, improved morale, and even save lives.

You don’t always get to choose your battles; sometimes they choose you. When that first call comes in, you don’t know what will be waiting on the other end; a burning building, a natural disaster, or an act of violence that requires prompt emergency medical services. But when the fires go out and the healing begins, the battles don’t always end. Compassion fatigue, burnout, and eventually post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can manifest themselves out of the mental and physical trials of the everyday first responder.

Understanding the symptoms that compound into PTSD and learning how to manage them won’t only improve morale, but can also save lives, according to Paul Costello, FF/EMT-P, a 25-year veteran of the fire service.

COMPASSION FATIGUE

Defined as “an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper,” compassion fatigue serves as a common precursor to PTSD.

While largescale emergencies and rescue operations do contribute to compassion fatigue, oftentimes it’s the mundane tasks that have the strongest impact on first responders. Fires are at an all-time low, meaning primary care and mental health calls will take up a majority of first responders’ time. Think of each company member’s psyche as a personal barometer; with each passing call, those barometers will gradually inch closer and closer to the end of the dial, signifying an escalating growth of compassion fatigue. While every individual’s barometer is different, the lurking danger of burnout will inevitably set in.

BURNOUT

Occupational burnout is defined as “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

Developing a negative worldview as a result of burnout doesn’t only run the risk of adversely affecting your personal life, but it is dangerously contagious to your family and colleagues as well. Think about the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rookie arriving for his or her first day on the job and immediately assimilates to the burnout of a 20-year veteran. Influenced by how the veteran reacts negatively to day-by-day nuances, pretty soon the rookie exhibits his or her own gradual tilt into compassion fatigue and a faster descent into burnout.

Being the dull tool in the toolbox doesn’t just affect you, but it also affects outcomes.

“It’s almost cancerous in a manner of speaking with how it can impact your employees,” said Costello. “One of the things I firmly believe is it affects outcomes but you have to override it. Realize that you’re there as an advocate whether or not a call is exactly as dispatch has described it. It’s still that person’s emergency. You have to accept it as a reality in our profession.”

EMERGENCE OF FIRE SERVICE PTSD

Like a wildland blaze at the height of fire season, PTSD will overwhelm first responders in the form of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sleep deprivation, panic attacks, and violent or suicidal thoughts. While many cases compound through a linear ascension of compassion fatigue and burnout, single traumatic events, such as the recent shootings in Las Vegas, can profoundly accelerate the symptoms of PTSD.

Despite glaring warning signs, the fire service maintains a troubling track record of refusing to seek help. The idea that an individual will be seen as weak or passed over for promotion if they seek counseling are common concerns for the everyday firefighter, but this type of self-deprivation creates a vicious cycle of compassion fatigue which leads to burnout and eventually develops into the bottomless pit of fire service PTSD.

NEED HELP? GET HELP

Just as you rely on your crew when entering a burning building, you certainly don’t have to fight PTSD on your own. Some insurance plans in the fire service feature an employee assistance program that provides a certain number of free visits to a licensed clinical social worker or behavioral therapist. These sessions provide you an outlet to unload your feelings and emotions while receiving guidance on how to deal with them in the future.

Are you a chief? Sometimes the most powerful form of leadership is to lead by example. Dental visits are recommended twice per year; why doesn’t mental health carry the same weight? Normalizing annual “tune-up” visits to a cognitive therapist is a healthy way to stay on top of PTSD. When an effective leader can sympathize with what a company member is going through, crews will want to emulate that behavior.

“This is a tough business that’s a slog at times with daily wear and tear,” said Costello. “You’re dealing with other people’s problems and emergencies and trying not to let the process as a whole grind you down. Whether your career is 20, 25, 30 years, if you’re going to be successful you’re going to have to have these tactics to defend yourself.”

Fire Service Health and Safety Part I, the first installment of a two-part online training series from TargetSolutions, explores numerous topics pertaining to firefighter health and wellness, including a section dedicated to anxiety and fire service PTSD.  The course outlines the
concepts, science, and economics of fire service-related health and safety as modern firefighters need to understand these interconnected concepts.

Understand your limits, seek treatment, and then pass on that knowledge to future generations. You’re not in this alone.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

ABOUT THFire Service PTSDE CONTRIBUTOR

Paul Costello is a veteran paramedic, firefighter, fire service instructor, and TargetSolutions subject matter expert who has assisted in the development of numerous fire-related training courses. He played a pivotal part in the direction and production of TargetSolutions’ award-winning 1410 Evolutions training bundle, a 14-course video-driven series that was shot on location with the St. Charles Fire Department in St. Charles, Missouri and Pasco County Fire Rescue in Land O’ Lakes, Florida.

TargetSolutions’ Advanced HAZWOPER Awareness Training Series Undergoes Enhancements

TargetSolutions’ Advanced HAZWOPER Awareness series, recently enhanced with new content, multimedia, and video, provides eight hours of online hazardous materials training that covers the essentials of preventing and managing hazardous events.

Even with the best prevention methods in place, incidents involving hazardous materials are bound to happen. Understanding the nature of hazardous materials – and how to respond to various types of incidents – will help you quickly manage a dangerous situation and minimize damage.

TargetSolutions’ Advanced HAZWOPER Awareness is a four-module series of online training courses designed to educate personnel on hazardous materials, effective communication strategies, personal protective equipment (PPE), preventative measures, and much more.

Packed with eight hours of hazardous materials training, this four-part series has been reinvented with updated content, enhanced multimedia, and is now presented in a video-driven, instructor-led format.

Here is a breakdown of each module in the series:

Module 1: The series begins with a summary of the different environmental regulations surrounding the issue of hazardous materials and hazardous waste. The module presents the identification of different types of hazardous wastes and their classifications in order to prevent hazardous waste incidents.

Module 2: The second installment discusses various methods used to identify hazardous materials and substances, both in transport and industry.

Module 3: This course explores the potential risks of working with hazardous chemicals and their effects on the body, including routes of entry and basic toxicology.

Module 4: The final lesson in the series focuses on employee awareness when working around hazardous materials, steps for proper handling of hazardous materials, preventative measures to curtail hazardous incidents, and mitigation methods.

“These types of incidents are bound to happen, regardless of how much caution is taken. That’s why it’s important for first responders to equip themselves with hazardous materials training and to be ready for when they do occur. These courses have been updated, they have been enhanced, and they’re incredibly important for anyone who will be exposed to hazardous incidents.”

Bryan Fitzgerald, Content Manager, TargetSolutions

 

TargetSolutions’ course catalog also features other courses that discuss hazardous materials, including First Responders Operations Level Refresher (four modules), Introduction to Hazardous Materials (EMS), Hazard Communication (OSHA), Hazmat Spill Prevention & Control (OSHA), and Hazmat Transportation (OSHA), among others.

If you have any questions online hazardous materials training or about TargetSolutions’ online training catalog, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048.

TargetSolutions’ Top 10 OSHA Training Courses for 2017

TargetSolutions’ top 10 OSHA training courses for 2017 have thus far amassed more than 160,000 total completions. 

TargetSolutions’ online training management system features more than 60 hours of OSHA safety training that complies with local, state and federal training mandates. Online OSHA training courses are available 24/7 and provide flexible learning that save organizations time and money.

With more than a month remaining in 2017, TargetSolutions’ most popular courses in the OSHA & Compliance catalog totaled more than 160,000 course completions. These courses address a variety of topics within occupational health and safety and compliance.

Here are the top 10 OSHA training courses based on total completions in 2017:

  • Sexual Harassment Awareness helps prevent incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace and provide guidelines on what to do if such an incident occurs. It aims to help employees recognize the seriousness of violations of their sexual harassment policy and help victims come forward.
  • Bloodborne Pathogens Safety explains the requirements for complying with OSHA standards and provides practical information on the various diseases and protection strategies associated with bloodborne pathogens. The course incorporates the updated 2001 OSHA standard that were made in compliance with the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act.
  • Back Injury Prevention recognizes that the back is the most injury-prone part of the body, but most back injuries are preventable. This course highlights techniques for protecting and strengthening the back to avoid common injuries that can result in pain, lost work time, inconvenience and possible disability.
  • Hearing Conservation outlines the requirements of a Hearing Conservation Program to prevent hearing loss – one of the most common occupational diseases and second most self-reported occupational illness or injury. Continued exposure to OSHA’s defined noise level of more than 85 decibels means a company must have a Hearing Conservation Program.
  • Hazard Communication satisfies OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to ensure information about chemical dangers is shared with those who need to know. This course emphasizes how to comply to HCS and incorporates recent changes made to the standard in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.
  • Lock-Out / Tag-Out helps safeguard employees from hazardous energy while they are performing service or maintenance on machines and equipment. The course outlines the procedures necessary to properly shut down and lock-out or tag-out these machines.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls Prevention ensures compliance to the OSHA standards for walking and working surfaces. This course helps reduce fall accidents that cause 15% of all accidental deaths.
  • Fire Extinguisher Safety educates personnel on how to operate fire extinguishers to suppress small, incipient stage, accessible fires before these fires can grow and intensify.
  • Workplace Diversity promotes an awareness about different cultures and backgrounds to help bring unity and tolerance to the workplace or community.
  • Workplace Violence provides guidance for employees to prevent workplace violence by identifying risk factors and steps to handle incidents. This course helps organizations and individual employees develop violence prevention programs that ensure safety.

For questions about TargetSolutions’ OSHA & Compliance course library, please contact us today at (800) 840-8048!

Biographical Drama ‘Only the Brave’ Refuels the Firefighter Film Genre

Blog by Greg Baldwin
Marketing Content Specialist at TargetSolutions

Films inspired by the fire service have a habit of settling their themes around the “Man vs. Fire” climactic battle, leaving the story and plot as a mild formality. The recently released Only the Brave, directed by Joseph Kosinski, completely rewrites the firefighter film formula and serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the eyes of danger.

Based on the true story of the Yarnell Hill Fire near Yarnell, Arizona in June 2013, the story follows superintendent Eric “Supe” Marsh (Josh Brolin) of the Prescott Fire Department and his Type 2 battalion (also known as “deucers”) as they strive to one day become certified Type 1 (also known as hotshots). Supe is wise beyond his years and his crew operates as a well oiled high-performance engine, but despite these credentials their certification is still four years in the making. Things get testy when rookie Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) is given an opportunity to earn a spot in the company. McDonough has just been kicked out of his mother’s house, has a child on the way, and bears a history of substance abuse. Paired with his poor physical conditioning and limited intellect, he’s branded the nickname “Donut” and is nearly dismissed on multiple occasions.

In a way, Donut’s exile into the real world from the sanctuary of his mother’s house is synonymous with the film’s theme of marching into danger and being forced to create something out of nothing. Laziness and abuse make up the only world that Donut has known, but that all changes as he confronts the crossroads in his life: take his limited fire experience and put it to good use with Supe’s department or continue his path to eventual self-destruction. Both decisions are dangerous but only one is correct.

The film succeeds in generating tension between Donut and his new company while subtly constructing the bonds that will eventually bring them together as one unit: the Granite Mountain Hotshots. There is an instance where Donut can no longer handle the escalating hazing and stops short of punching one of his instigating comrades. In most other films, the punch would have been thrown and the team would be no less for the wear. In this case, Donut has too much to lose and the members of the company start to take notice when he refuses to give up despite his struggles. It’s the fact that he didn’t throw the punch (as he probably would have done as a junkie) that makes his colleagues start to respect him. Whether this particular altercation is based on fact or not, the traditional formula of the firefighter film genre would ultimately call for Donut to land the punch. No exceptions.

The landscapes of the film are nothing short of breathtaking and, at times, terrifying. Supe recalls an occurrence early in his career where he came across an engulfed bear fleeing from an inferno. “It was the most beautiful and terrible thing I have ever seen.” Utilizing a healthy blend of practical and CGI effects, the film brilliantly illustrates this contradiction in ways that no other firefighter film has ever done. To our protagonists, the intimidating panoramic landscapes aren’t comprised of beauty or nature; only fuel for the fire.

Sure to refuel the firefighter film genre, the emotionally supercharged Only the Brave has opened to unanimous fanfare with critics lauding its story, writing, acting, and stunning visual effects. While the epic is a work of fiction, the climactic event that it is based on is not, and that certainly hits home. As I sit behind my computer writing this, somewhere far away in another city, another state, another country, there is a cadre of brave men and women who are entering a fire zone right now and putting it all on the line. Sometimes we could all use a reminder about the realities of the dangers that the fire service faces every day. Today, Only the Brave is that reminder.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Greg Greg Baldwin Content SpecialistBaldwin joined the TargetSolutions team in June of 2015 and serves as the company’s Marketing Content Specialist. A graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in marketing, he played a key role in the development of the award-winning NFPA 1410 Evolutions series as one of two videographers on location in St. Charles, Missouri. Greg is a veteran volunteer of the local animal shelters, having won County of San Diego Volunteer of the Year honors in 2013 for his implementation of a digital marketing program.