In this task I have been asked to analyse and compare the fitness requirements of three public services. The public services I have chosen are the fire service, the police service and the prison service. This will be a challenging task, as first I need to define fitness. Fitness is largely determined by point of view and these are varied, for example Wesson et al (2000) says that fitness defined is “… the ability to undertake everyday activities without undue fatigue… ” their definiton is an all encompassing view which includes people from all walks of life.
In contrast Dick (1989) states that fitness is “… the successful adaptation to the stressors of one’s lifestyle… ” this implies that to define fitness we must first investigate any strain on the individual from their lifestyle and measure the ability to cope with these strains. I believe Dicks definition is flawed practically, as someone who does very little exercise and does not work is defined as fit as a marathon runner such as Paula Radcliffe because their body is adapted to the stressors in their life as is Paula Radcliffe’s, though the stressors in her life are much more potent.
Having gathered information on the fire services training period and researched their fitness plans I can now analyse their fitness requirements. The fire service state that part of their entry test is twenty metre multi stage fitness test, more commonly known as the bleep test, this is done wearing sports kit and the pass level is 9. 6 (level 9 shuttle 6). It is very commonly used in the public services to assess aerobic fitness. This test involves continuous running between two lines 20m apart in time to recorded beeps.
There are numerous versions of the test; a common version has an initial running velocity of 8.5 km/hr, which increases by 0. 5 km/hr each minute. The advantages of this test are that it allows large groups to partake in it. The disadvantages are that the test is generally conducted in a sports hall wearing a sports kit, while in reality a fire fighter would be wearing full uniform and would most likely be moving quickly in an outdoor environment. A physically demanding part of the fire service fitness regime is called ‘hose running’. Hose running consists of unrolling 6 x 25m lengths of hose then rolling them back up in under eight minutes.
This is done in full uniform and according to South Wales fire service website the test is: “designed to measure co-ordination, dexterity, rate control and reaction time. Stamina, flexibility and continuous strength are also measured. ” This is considered one of the most physically demanding tests in the fire services training. From an analytical point this test is a good indicator of whether the candidate is up to the physical standards required by the fire service because it is an activity that will feature regularly in a fire fighters career. Another element of training to be part of the fire service is the ladder climb test.
This involves climbing a ladder to a great height, whilst wearing a safety harness, you must then perform a ‘leg lock’ which means holding onto the ladder with only your legs, the instructor below will then ask to read a number or identify a colour on the ground below. This test was designed with mental fitness being tested as it proves whether you can stay calm while at a great height, and is done in full uniform. Again this test is a practical one as it tests the fears of the individual and proves they have the ability to balance themselves when under pressure.
To examine an individuals strength of grip and strength of arms plus their stamina, potential fire fighters are asked to complete a ladder extend test. To pass, they must extend a 13. 5m ladder and carry a 45kg weight up to a height of 4m. The ladder extend test is another test used with sound reasoning it incorporates tasks that fire fighters must be prepared to deal with in the event of an emergency, the weight 45kg is used because that is the average weight of every human being in Great Britain, i. e. men, women, children, and babies.
According to the fire service’s main website the dead lift test is designed to test “your explosive strength, combined with leg and back power”. The candidate is expected to lift a 50kg weight using special equipment provided. This test is necessary though the way it is carried out is flawed. From the picture, opposite, you can see that the test is carried out using a special ‘weight’ machine when in a real life situation the fire fighter would not have the luxury of handles on the weight he was lifting.
A psychological test carried out by the fire service is the breathing apparatus test. It’s finding are primarily used to see if the trainee has any claustrophobic tendencies that even they themselves may not be aware of. The candidate will be asked to dress in full breathing apparatus and negotiate a maze in complete darkness it is common for trainees to be asked to do this test more than once refusal to take part results in failure of the course. This is an excellent example of a job related test within the public services.
It tests stamina, mental capability, and the applicant’s ability to deal with restricted breathing techniques. Another part of fire fighter training is the back/thigh pull test, in which the individual is asked to squat on a piece of equipment called a dynamometer (see picture), they will then be told to pull 117kg using their back and thigh muscles. This physical trial is again a necessary part of training but is carried out in a job related environment – a trainee may find it easy to lift this weight using the machine, but could struggle if the weight was in the form of an unconscious person.
The final part of the fire service training system I will looking at is the hand grip test, this is similar to the back/thigh test in all aspects except it tests how strong your grip is, to successfully pass the test your dominant hand must be able to grip with a force of 35kg and your non dominant hand with a force of 33kg. To conclude my analysis of the fire services physical fitness test has featured all the main tests used by the fire service and tried to explain why they have been chosen.
The number of job related tests are considerable when compared to other public services I have investigated. With this in mind I feel that, although the tasks in the training period are well thought and structured, there should be some sort of physical tests done by all fire fighters to constantly evaluate their fitness levels. My recommendation would be to have these tests once a year and fire fighters who fail to meet the standard would complete the probationary training period again to prove their motivation and commitment to the important role they play in the public service industry.