Recruit School 101
Being a firefighter/EMT is very rewarding, but to be successful it requires physical preparation on your part for recruit school as well as continuous physical effort throughout your career. The position requires you to perform strenuous work in a hot environment, wearing heavy gear and equipment.
Recruit school is a sustained program of physical and mental exertion. Training in an air conditioned gym is not enough to prepare you for this, but beginning a physical training program that involves quick bursts of energy and exercises performed at maximum effort for a short time as well as walking, hiking, biking, swimming, rowing or using a stair-climber or elliptical machine will help. Much of the work you will perform during fire recruit school will require aerobic as well as anaerobic conditioning. Entering the recruit training process in poor physical condition may lead to injuries or the inability to complete required physical tasks, which could lead to your removal from the recruit school. You are encouraged to prepare yourself, both mentally and physically, for the physical fitness requirements that lie ahead.
The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Career Recruit School lasts approximately 30 weeks. Recruits will obtain numerous basic certifications such as the Virginia Department of Fire Programs Firefighter I and II, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT)-Basic, Mayday/Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) Training, and several other basic technical rescue training programs.
Recruit school is typically:
- 8 hours a day
- 5 days a week
- 7:00am to 3:00pm is a normal day
- Some trainings will take place at night, which recruits will know about in advance.
- Typically recruit school does not take place on weekends.
- There may be some cases where weekend attendance is required. This could be in connection to the recruit's hospital rotations during EMT training or due to a state certification test taking place on a weekend.
Recruit School follows a strict chain-of-command and expects a high level of discipline and respect at all times. We follow a paramilitary style of leadership due to the often chaotic scenarios we find ourselves in on emergency fire and EMS calls to include structure fires, motor vehicle crashes, acts of violence, hazardous materials incidents and more. Personnel are trained to follow orders with strict attention to detail to ensure a positive outcome for the public and department personnel.
It is very important to begin recruit school in a physical condition that will permit you to actively participate in the physical tasks required in school. The following outlines those physical expectations for recruit school.
- In the early weeks of recruit school, there will be occasional running, on average 2-3 miles a week, and various forms of physical conditioning exercises that are overseen by our Health and Wellness Manager.
- Physical conditioning exercises will vary and will include weightlifting and body weight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups. The amount of weight and exercises will be dictated by our health and wellness manager based on the individual needs of each recruit. It is expected for a firefighter to carry an extra 50-75 pounds of weight under strenuous and potentially high heat/humid conditions.
- You will participate in the “firefighter-conditioning course” at various points throughout the academy.
- This is a physically challenging, job-specific course that is designed to strengthen the muscle groups most commonly used in the firefighting profession and will require you to work in an anaerobic state wearing turnout gear and air pack.
- Your turnout gear and air pack will add approximately 50 pounds of weight and hamper your body’s ability to cool down.
- During fire school, a typical morning consists of physical conditioning to include cardio and/or strenuous weight training for about 1 hour, and the first one-two hour rotations of practical drills. Practical drills are hands on skills that recruits are required to demonstrate with proficiency. In the afternoon, there are several more hours of practical drills. This schedule is only a typical day and will change occasionally to accommodate various classes.
Firefighter recruits will be measured monthly to track progress on:
- Running 1.5 miles in less than 15 minutes
- Plank for a minimum of 2 minutes 30 seconds
- Overall Flexibility test
- Max push-ups in two minutes
- Max pull-ups in two minutes