Every firefighter has a different story about what drew them to the profession. From the camaraderie, to family history and community connection, there are many reasons why brave men and women make the choice to become firefighters.
At Lakeland, we support many firefighters and fire departments with lifesaving turnout gear. But beyond the bunker gear, we support firefighters and their mission to save lives. We have had the opportunity to meet firefighters from around the world, some of whom compete with Team Lakeland in competitions. In the interview below, learn more about one of our incredible competitors, how she got where she is today, and about her role in the toughest two minutes in sports.
Get to Know Keltie May Nicoll
Keltie is a female firefighter from Leduc, Alberta, Canada. She become interested in the profession after she attended a leadership camp in highschool that had a firefighter focus. As an active youth who enjoyed playing sports, Keltie thought it would be a great career fit for her. A focus on physical fitness, teamwork and community was something that really drew her to the profession.
Now, six years into her successful career, Keltie is passionate not only about her job, but also how it has helped shape many aspects of her life.
“Being a firefighter is more than just a job. It’s really who you are,” says Keltie. “Every day is different and the people you work with become your family.”
For those interested in becoming a firefighter, she says, just go for it!
“It can be tough to get on a department, but don’t give up,” Kelted stated. “Work hard, prepare yourself, talk to other firefighters and educate yourself.”
She even suggested taking some time to go and talk with your local department. They are always willing to provide advice and information and it can’t hurt to start building relationships with other firefighters. Most importantly, she advises, stay on top of your physical fitness.
“Try and over prepare and keep your physical fitness in check all the time,” she said. “Fitness is a critical aspect of the job – especially when you are trying to get on a department.”
How Do Firefighters Stay Fit?
Physical strength and fitness training is an everyday reality for firefighters. The ability to perform effectively in an emergency situation stems from disciplined training and practice. Firefighters continually hone their skills and strength in job specific tasks to help prepare their minds and bodies to react in critical circumstances. Whether it is training at the station on-shift, or at the gym during off-hours, firefighters are used to incorporating physical fitness into their everyday routines.
Looking for more firefighter fitness information? Download your free firefighter fitness guide.
FireFit and the Firefighter Combat Challenge
One activity many firefighters have found to help boost fitness that is unique to their field, is FireFit or the Firefighter Combat Challenge. Touted as the toughest two minutes in sports, these fire specific competitions task firefighters with physical tests that mimic their life saving efforts on the job -- climbing stairs, hoisting and dragging hoses, hammering with a sledgehammer and dragging a dummy to safety. Keltie credits these competitions with helping her refine the physical aspects of her job that can really make a difference in an emergency.
“FireFit competitions are events based off of things you would do on a fireground,” says Keltie. “Training for these competitions is basically training for your job in a really fun, competitive way. I have had emergency situations on the job where I knew exactly what to do because of my training. I felt confident thanks to my training, I was prepared.
So what does Keltie recommend for training? Her go-to of late includes lots of hard cardio training and high intensity interval training. As a firefighter, Keltie advises, it is important to train yourself for the competition and for the job. If you have access to a dummy, use a dummy -- if you can train on stairs regularly, that is also important.
Keltie states, “My motto is: it’s all about getting comfortable with uncomfortable.”
What is the best part about competing as a FireFit athlete?
“Definitely the camaraderie of the sport,” said Keltie. “The other athletes are some of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life. All like-minded, and crazy enough to put our bodies through what we do on the course. Your biggest competitors are also your biggest fans. Even though we are all competing, we are really just competing against our own time. We all want to root for each other, share tips and tricks – and that is what is so fantastic about it.”
How Your Turnout Gear Can Improve Performance
The way turnout gear is constructed, the way it is designed to move as you move, can make a big difference in the line of duty. All turnout gear is designed to meet NFPA 1971 standards, but that does not mean it has been designed to help you crawl in tight spaces, maneuver quickly with ease, and improve function and visibility on the job.
We asked Keltie about her thoughts on Lakeland’s Stealth turnout gear, which she wears in competition.
“My gear moves like it is supposed to,” said Keltie. “It’s really lightweight – way lighter than any other gear – and I find that it doesn’t bind or restrict me. The best part is that I don’t have to think about it, I can just compete and keep my mind focused on the task in front of me.”
In addition to its lightweight design, Lakeland Stealth firefighter turnout gear has unique elements designed to help firefighters optimize their performance and visibility in emergency situations.
LazerMax Trim™ is a patented silver reflective seam, located on the arm, shoulder and pant which allows for increased visibility -- an essential need for fire crews and emergency responders.
“The reflective piping makes you way more visible at night,” says Keltie. “It is very important in the work we do.”
Stealth’s patented Black-Ops™ Multi-Adjust Suspender System is designed to improve fit for all firefighter shapes and sizes.
“I really like that Lakeland’s gear has an athletic cut,” Keltie stated. “It seems to fit women’s bodies really well, it doesn’t feel cookie cutter, and it offers better movement and maneuverability.”
Interested in trying out Lakeland Stealth gear in your next competition or at your department? Contact Lakeland today to learn more.
Lakeland Stealth™ Turnout Gear is the ultimate in fire protection technology. Advanced ergonomics combined with cutting edge materials give you superior protection with maximum freedom of movement. Learn more about Lakeland Stealth and #GearUp with Lakeland.
Looking for more firefighter information? Take a look at our firefighter fitness guide to get the latest information on how to upgrade your firefighter fitness routine.