March 01, 2007
Honolulu Fire Department, Hawaii; Orange Country Fire Authority and Oakland Fire Department, California; Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District, Washington; Marietta Fire Department, Georgia; Parker Fire District, Colorado. What do all of these fire departments have in common?
You’ve probably already guessed part of the answer: They use CrossFit, officially or unofficially, to prepare for the rigors of their profession. But there’s more. In firefighter competitions around the country, it seems that whenever CrossFit-trained personnel enter, they end up at the top of the field. We might even say that fire companies like those above dominate the competition.
For those of us familiar with CrossFit and its results, this success is not terribly surprising. However, we have observed a phenomenon in these competitions that is curious indeed. In the parts of the competitions that require contestants to use oxygen tanks, CrossFit-trained firefighters consumed less from their oxygen bottles than other competitors. At first this seems odd—winners using less oxygen? The conventional understanding is that the more fit you are, the more oxygen you can consume (i.e., the greater your VO2 max), the higher levels of exertion you can sustain, and the faster you can get the job done.