There are 1,140,750 volunteer and career U.S. firefighters who protect the lives of millions. And now, there are more female firefighters than ever. Their work is utterly intense. But just how brutal is their training? We caught up with United Women Firefighters of the FDNY—the largest municipal firefighter department in the U.S. and second largest in the world next to the Tokyo Fire Department— to see. Here’s how they prepare, in partnership with the New York Sports Club, to be able to wear 60 pounds of gear, operate heavy tools, and save lives every day. 

Did You Know..

125: The number of pounds a firefighter’s gear and tools can feel like while traveling up stairs or ladders and preforming life-saving activities.


Wear a 50-pound weighted vest for the following exercises: 

Simulated Firefighting Drills

  • Tie rope to sled loaded with 170 pounds, pulling rope hand over hand. Then push sled back to start. Do four rounds, back and forth across studio.
  • Pull a 165-pound dummy, four rounds, back and forth across large studio.
  • Pull 21⁄2-inch-diameter firehose tied to a 70-pound heavy bag across large studio, 

Forcible Entry Drills 

  • Tie heavy bag (70 pounds) to ceiling and hit with maul: 10 reps each side (left and right) three to four times. 

Stair Training 

  • StepMill at 59 steps/ minute with a 50-pound weighted vest for eight minutes.

Kettlebell Swings 

  • 26 to 35 pounds for 20 reps, three times. 

Battle Rope Swings 

Squat Bag Flips

  • Squat, then flip a heavy bag over until you reach the other side of studio. Push bag back to start. Do three to four times. 


Military-style calisthenics are used to train endurance. (FDNY Fire Academy is modeled after U.S. Army standards.)
  • Four pullups, or 10 negatives.
  • 30 pushups, three times.
  • Five-minute planks throughout workout.
  • 50 burpees (approx- imately 2x a workout).
  • 100 jumping jacks (broken up) with 20-pound firefighter hose held above head.