Do You Have Endurance or Do You Give Up Too Easily?

Do You Have Endurance or Do You Give Up Too Easily?

As I continue the series on the Marine Corps leadership traits, this week’s topic is endurance which is, “The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship.”1

Mental and physical stamina

Think about the following scenarios:

  • Advancing a hose line to the third floor of an apartment building in July.
  • Carrying a patient down a long, steep driveway in January with two feet of snow on the ground.
  • Hiking uphill, downhill, uphill, then going to work digging a line around a wildland fire.

These scenarios and others demand both mental and physical stamina to successfully perform the various tasks that confront firefighters.

Leaders set the example of endurance.

Are you a company officer, engine or crew boss, task force leader, group or division supervisor, or a battalion chief working in operations? Can you endure the mental and physical stressors that accompany firefighting? When fatigued and in pain, do you press on or do you whine like the siren on your rig?

As a leader, it is imperative that you set the example for those who are working for you. Make no mistake, the people who are working for you know what you are capable of and if they see a leader who lacks endurance, then their trust and faith in that leader rapidly diminishes.

On the other hand, the leader who successfully manages the mental and physical stresses of the job sets a positive example for their subordinates. These are the leaders who inspire others to perform far above what they thought possible of themselves.

Endurance equals physical preparation.

There is only one way to increase physical endurance and that is through a healthy lifestyle; eating well and engaging in physical exercise.

Also, it is important to remember that on duty physical preparation requires the exercise of common sense. There were times I would show up in the station after a crew performed an insane workout and they were spent. Please take note that physical exercise does not mean you drive yourself or your crew onto the ground at the beginning of the shift to where you are no good on an incident. Use common sense and save the intense workouts for your days off.

Mental endurance

Many times, our bodies can be pushed far beyond what our minds think is capable, but that relates to physical preparation.

Mental endurance is also associated with good mental health. Over the last several years, mental health has become more important to the fire service than when I first became a firefighter and that is a positive step in the right direction.

What can you do?

If you want to have a long career in the fire service, then you must learn how to deal with the stress inherent to the profession. One method to successfully manage stress is to have a coach and mentor.

Tailboard Talks is a community of like-minded fire service professionals where you can join other firefighters in a safe and ridicule free environment, learning how to deal with the pressures of the job, building your leadership skills, and increasing your endurance.

Send me an email at [email protected] or visit my website to learn more at

1 RP0103.pdf (

©2023 Rick Davis. Artificial intelligence (AI) WAS NOT used to generate this content.

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