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Jorge Carvajal

Legacy Member

Jorge Carvajal currently serves in the role of Captain for Miami Dade Fire Rescue. He was first introduced to the Fire Service Joint Labor-Management Wellness Fitness Initiative by a colleague who thought, because of his fitness background, he would be an asset to its development. After serving as one of the original beta testers/validators for the IAFF’s Candidate Physical Abilities Test when it was first launched in Phoenix in 1997, he was motivated to get more involved and help grow wellness and fitness in the fire service. He subsequently applied and was accepted as an instructor for the Peer Fitness Trainer Program, which, at the time, had just launched.

Jorge was among the first cadre of instructors who attended training in Fairfax County, Virginia and who collectively laid the foundations of the program, which have carried it into the present day. He remains proud of the work that was accomplished at that meeting, and seeing how the program has expanded; not least of which because of the passion and dedication of instructors past and present. Over the course of the 17 years that Jorge served as a PFT instructor he had the honor of teaching multiple classes across North America. For him, the best part of being an instructor has always been knowing that the cadre of IAFF, PFT instructors, really care about spreading the message of health and wellness in the fire service. He also relished the many opportunities to meet fire fighters from across the United States and Canada. In Jorge’s opinion, the most important thing then, and now, remains recognizing the need for better health and wellness in the fire service, along with designing safe and effective personalized fire fighter training programs for those coming on the job, for incumbents and for those getting ready for retirement.

Exercise and physical activity have always been a large part of Jorge’s life. Starting in junior high he became cognizant of the need to be fit and was motivated to improve his fitness in order to achieve the coveted Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge patch, which symbolized that one had met a threshold level of fitness. He found it fun to test himself against some of the best athletes at his school – many whom went on to become professional athletes in the NFL. Jorge’s motivation to exercise and be fit continued into high school, as a varsity football athlete. He recognized the connection between physical training, improvements in physical ability and performance on the field, and this inspired him to explore different training methodologies, sparking an interest in the science and practice of physical development.

Jorge continued his athletic pursuits in college as a walk on football athlete, but as fate would have it, it was an injury he sustained that accelerated his interested in strength and conditioning. This lead him to change his course work to exercise science and to subsequently complete several Graduate Assistant Strength & Conditioning positions, which furthered his knowledge and passion for helping others. Once Jorge got into the fire service, training took on another dimension for him. It was no longer just about athletic performance, but also about being fit to fight fire and about survival. This forced him to adopt a different motivational mind set and program.

Today, Jorge’s motivations to exercise and be physical active have once again changed and are focused around longevity and being fit for the long haul. As a result, his fitness routine looks different than it did in the past, during the times where he was mainly focused on preparing to fight fires. His workouts mainly consist of a mix of strength training and conditioning – primarily Zone 2 work, tempo intervals and dosed mobility work. Jorge is also a lifelong surfer and endeavors to surf several times a week – an activity which is a combination of speed, power, strength and endurance work. Discipline has always been at the forefront of Jorge’s personal wellness and fitness. Fitness has always been a lifestyle for him and not necessarily a habit he has had to consciously instill. The pursuit of better physical performance has been a lifelong affair for Jorge, and the fitness programs that he was following prior to being a fire fighter served him well and carried over a great deal to the fire service and his passion for surfing.

Reflecting on his experiences, Jorge would advise departments looking to invest in the wellness and fitness of their members to start by acknowledging that the fire service’s most important asset is its people. In his opinion, there is no better investment that exists than supporting front-line personnel with a well thought out wellness and fitness program that is made available to all members.

For the individual fire fighter looking to invest in their wellness and fitness Jorge would start by pointing out that fire fighting remains one of the most physically demanding occupations that exist, and as such, possessing the physical capacities to complete fire ground tasks safely must be the priority and the main goal. Studying Firefighter Fatality Investigations and subsequent reports, Jorge has found that a great majority of LODD’s involved sudden cardiac events during training or after participating in fire fighting operations. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the number one killer in the United States, and arguably is more impactful for the fire fighting community due to the high heat and high intensity of the work, and further exacerbated by the low fitness levels prevalent in the community. It takes a certain amount of conditioning in order for the cardiovascular system to recover from the high demands experienced on the job and this underscores the importance of fire fighters not only being fit enough to fire the fire, so to speak, but also to recover after the fact.

Jorge would implore fire fighters to ask themselves the following question: “Do I have the cardiovascular capabilities to recover from one of the most demanding occupations on the planet?”. If the answer is no, he would advise them to invest in a health and wellness program that suits their lifestyle and needs/wants on and off the job. Lastly, Jorge would remind fire fighters that improving one’s fitness is not just about being safer on the job, but surviving the job and increasing longevity in the fire service.


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