By Rob Shaul & Charles Bausman
Last month we published the MTI Relative Strength Assessment.
Today we present the MTI 3/600/3 Wildland Firefighter Endurance Assessment.
Wildland Fire Fighters have a common minimum endurance standard in the “BLM Pack Test,” which entails a 3 mile hike over flat groundwith a 45 lbs load. However, similar to the military, individual units (Hotshot Crews, Smokejumpers, etc.) require more challenging assessments including fast, long, unloaded runs (5-10 miles) and super heavy (90+ pounds) pack outs up to 5 miles.
Our Thoughts Going In to Building this Endurance Assessment
- Mission-Direct: The assessment should assess mission-direct endurance demands, which for Wildland Firefighters means loaded movement and uphill hiking under load.
- The assessment must be easy to complete and easy to score. The assessment should be able to completed as a unit with minimal requirements for scoring and tracking. It should also be able to be completed in a manageable time. No superficial training gear or instruction. KISS principle applies.
- Training area should be simple. a 1.5 mile flat loop or 1.5 mile down/back flat course on road, 16-18″ step or box, and a stop watch is all units/athletes will need for this assessment.
- The type of equipment and weight carried should be the same, or closely simulated, to the requirements of the job.
- Each event should be individually scored, then tallied for a overall assessment score. Similar to the relative strength assessment, individual event scoring allows us more data to identify fitness deficiencies.
MTI 3/600/3 Wildland Firefighter Endurance Assessment Protocol
Uniform: Approved fire boots and nomex firefighting clothing
- 400m Run (70% Effort)
- Instep/Hip Flex/Pigeon Stretch
(1) 3 Mile Run – Unloaded
In boots and firefighting clothing, while carrying a hand tool or simulated object weighing 5 lbs., the athlete will run three miles at maximum effort.
** 10 Minutes to recover/prepare for next event
(2) 600x Step Ups for Time at Firefighting Load – 45 Pounds
Wearing the standard wildland pack loaded to 45# and hand tool and using a 16-18 inch high box or step, the athlete will perform 600x step ups as fast as possible. Each foot counts as one rep, so 600x Step Ups = 300x step ups each foot. Alternate feet each rep. Click HERE for exercise specifics.
** 10 Minutes to recover/prepare for next event
(3) 3 Mile Ruck at Pack Out Load – 75 Pounds
With a 75 lbs load distributed between standard wildland pack and approved chest harness (if applicable to your unit), and a hand or simulated tool, the athlete will move 3 miles on a flat course as fast as possible. He/she may walk, run, or shuffle.
Event Time & Points Awarded
(1) 3 Mile Run – Unloaded + Hand Tool
- < 18:00 = 10 points
- 18:01 – 19:00 = 9 points
- 19:01 – 20:00 = 8 points
- 20:01 – 21:00 = 7 points
- 21:01 – 22:00 = 6 points
- 22:01 – 23:00 = 5 points
- 23:01 – 24:00 = 4 points
- 24:01 – 25:00 = 3 points
- 25:01 – 26:00 = 2 points
- 26:01 – 27:00 = 1 point
- 27:01(+) = 0 points
(2) 600x Step Ups @ 45 Pounds + Hand Tool. 16-18 Inch Step.
- < 30:00 = 10 points
- 30:01 – 33:00 = 9 points
- 33:01 – 36:00 = 8 points
- 36:01 – 39:00 = 7 points
- 39:01 – 42:00 = 6 points
- 42:01 – 45:00 = 5 points
- 45:01 – 48:00 = 4 points
- 48:01 – 51:00 = 3 points
- 51:01 – 54:00 = 2 points
- 54:01 – 57:00 = 1 point
- 57:01(+) = 0 points
(3) 3 Mile Ruck @ 75 Pounds + Hand Tool
- <37:00 = 10 pts
- 37:01 – 38:00 = 9 pts
- 38:01 – 39:00 = 8 pts
- 39:01 – 40:00 = 7 pts
- 40:01 – 41:00 = 6 pts
- 41:01 – 42:00 = 5 pts
- 42:01 – 43:00 = 4 pts
- 43:01 – 44:00 = 3 pts
- 44:01 – 45:00 = 2 pts
- 45:01 – 46:00 = 1 pts
- 46:00 (+) = 0 pts
Find the sum of the three events for your overall score. For example…
3 Mile Unloaded Run Time: 20:45 = 7 pts
600x Step Up Time: 43:10 = 5 pts
3 Mile Ruck Time: 40:40 = 6 pts
Total Score = 18 points
MTI 3/600/3 Wildland Firefigher Endurance Assessment – Scoring
Poor: 0 – 10
Why the 3 mile, unloaded run (except for hand tool) to start?
Research, including our own, has shown a strong correlation between unloaded running performance and rucking performance. We felt the need for an unloaded (no pack) run in the assessment and we hope running in boots/firefighting clothes/tool as opposed to shorts/t-shirt/sneakers will have even more correlation, as well as making the rest of the assessment efficient to complete because no uniform change is needed.
Why the Flat Course for the unloaded run and packout ruck?
Simplicity, consistency and repeatability: the same course can be used for both the unloaded run and packout ruck, is consistent across units, and can easily be repeated by the same unit in different locations – as long as it has a box/bench for step ups.
Why the Step Ups for Wildland?
Initially we had combined wildland firefighters with military athletes and shared the same endurance assessment. But in further consideration, we felt the wildland firefighting endurance required an uphill hiking under load component – so we added it here with the step ups.
Why the 3 different loads?
These allow us to not only assess endurance, but also to some extent, strength. A fit, but weak athlete could score well on the unloaded portion of the run, but score progressively worse on the loaded portions. The 3 different loads allow us to look for these performance differences and will help us then program follow-on fitness programming.
Questions, feedback, recommendations?