The 12 Best Gifts for First Responders

Great gift ideas for any first responder! You don't need a reason, these are the perfect gifts for any season.

Finding the perfect gift for first responders has become increasingly challenging in recent years. In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to order anything you want online and have it delivered the next day, leading to a rise in gift cards and hassle-free exchanges. Whether searching for a thoughtful present for a beloved first responder or are a first responder yourself with unused holiday gifts or gift cards, you've come to the right place.

These gift ideas are not limited to the holiday season; they are suitable year-round. The criteria for these recommendations are straightforward: they must be affordable and positively impact your health and fitness.

They can and will alleviate discomfort, provide essential nutrition, offer motivation, and ultimately enhance the well-being and performance of any first responder.

#1.  The Peanut Foam Roller.

Peanut foam roller set  (click here) Retail $22.

By now you have probably heard about foam rolling and how it can relieve muscle aches and improve mobility and recovery.  If not, here is a great article to read (click here)  Foam rolling has been gaining in popularity in gyms and firehouses over the past few years.   The idea behind foam rolling is fairly simple, use your body weight to roll along the foam roller to find tight spots in your muscles.   By rolling on these "hot spots" which commonly occur in stressed muscles, you cause the nerves to relax and loosen.  This allows blood to flow more freely through the muscles and allows muscles to heal and repair more efficiently.

The concept behind foam rolling has remained the same over the years but the rollers themselves have evolved.  You can now get rollers of a wide variety of styles, shapes, and materials.  Some rollers vibrate and even heat up.  My personal opinion is that you don't need to get fancy, you just have to find something that works for you and stay consistent with it.

Which, is why I love the "peanut" foam roller.    You can put this in your gym bag or overnight bag and use it practically anywhere.  I've found that it is beneficial to use against a wall to get the shoulders and upper traps which can be difficult to get with the traditional foam roller.  These "nuts" (insert funny joke come in various sizes (insert funny joke #2) and levels of hardness (insert joke #3).  I found a great option on that is $22.   If you love foam rolling, you will love these!  If you have not tried foam rolling, you should try these...


#2.  The Fitbit Charge 6, or Sense. 

Fitbit Sense- click here for more information.  Retail is around $189

Fitbit Charge 6- click here for more information. Retail is around $129. 

Fitness trackers and wearables have become incredibly popular in the last couple of years. There are a wide variety of options available, including smartwatches, wrist or finger-worn devices, and even special clothing that can track muscle tone. As technology has advanced, so has the fitness wearables industry. While I could write a whole article on this topic (and might do so soon), I want to share why I'm a fan of three Fitbit options.

Fitbit is a reliable brand known for its quality products and good service. Their user interface is intuitive and provides essential information like steps, heart rate, distance, and reminders to stay active. These features are motivating and can help you incorporate more movement into your daily routine.

I'm using my Fitbit to track steps and measure recovery/ sleep.  Fitbit monitors heart health through ECG technology and an Electrodermal Activity sensor that measures stress levels based on perspiration. Additionally, they offer advanced sleep monitoring features to help users improve their sleep habits.

These functions are especially important for first responders because, the better we can take care of our health, the better we can serve others. If you're looking for a meaningful gift for a first responder or anyone interested in tracking their health, these Fitbit options are worth considering!


#3.  The FRF Hero-X Program. 


One of the best gift options (I might be biased) to give any first responder is the FRF Hero X Workout Program. This NEW FRF program will help any (and all) first responders lose fat, gain strength, and become a more mobile and agile everyday athletes.  

FRF HERO X program is a new way of training, it is a hybrid of functional strength training, functional cardio training, and functional recovery to help manage the physical and mental challenges of the job and life. Get access to the program immediately via our NEW FRF APP Platform.  You will get PDF copies of all the resources and workouts and be able to track progress, view exercise videos, message coaches, and discuss with other first responders via this new app and platform.


Click HERE for more information.  On SALE NOW.

This is a great gift to give "yourself" or that firefighter, EMT, or medic in your life.  I feel that every first responder should do this program to help them build strategies to manage their health and fitness.  A bonus to the program is that you can also participate with me as I feel so strongly about the program I will be doing it...again. 


#4.  Cornerstones of Leadership: On and Off the Fireground: Training - Teamwork - Mentorship. 

In terms of reading, I've never been particularly skilled. I struggle to maintain focus and often find myself having to reread pages. However, in the past year, I've committed to dedicate at least 10 minutes (or more) each day to reading. As a result, I have managed to finish several books and gain knowledge along the way.

I recently got my hands on a copy of Chief Frank Leeb's debut book, Cornerstones of Leadership: On and Off the Fireground: Training - Teamwork - Mentorship. It's an absolute gem! Chief Leeb, a mentor of mine from the FDNY, draws inspiration from his leadership philosophy and shares invaluable principles he has learned over his impressive 40-year career in the fire service. These principles have been the foundation of his successful ascent through the ranks of the FDNY, and he brilliantly shows how they can be applied to any industry or occupation for personal growth and organizational advancement. I highly recommend grabbing a copy on Amazon (click here).

How does this book relate to health and wellness?  There are numerous mentions of "being our best" and "performing at the top of our game" which directly correlates to working on your health and wellness.    I was able to interview Chief Leeb about the book on the Better Every Shift Podcast, you can click here to listen to it (highly recommend).


#5.  Firefighter Functional Fitness: The Essential Guide to Optimal Firefighter Performance and Longevity. 

Why would I recommend another fitness program?  Because it is a good one.!  I love what Jim Moss and Dan Kerrigan created with their Firefighter Functional Fitness Book.  I own a copy and believe that every first responder should read it.  The book is designed for firefighters by firefighters, and talks about the 4 Pillars of Firefighter Functional Fitness: 1 - Physical Fitness, 2 - Recovery and Rest, 3 - Hydration, and 4 - Nutrition and Lifestyle.  

It also reveals the Big 8 concept, which includes over 100 photos and descriptions of functional exercises, movements, and stretches that are specifically designed to enhance firefighter performance. The Workout Programming chapter gives firefighters numerous options for putting the Big 8 into action, taking into account all levels of fitness.

Additionally, each chapter provides practical action steps for both immediate improvement and long-term success.  I think this is a great complement to FRF programs!

Click here for ordering options.  The list price is $34.



#6. BlastMask Training Regulator  

BlastMask® Training Regulators attach to your face mask and simulate real-world SCBA breathing without draining your cylinders or your budget. With new enhancements, including the bypass and slide latch mimicking SCBA functionality is even more true to life.   The BlastMask enables you to conduct multiple training and fitness exercises with or without SCBA packs that can dramatically improve your readiness for the job.  I like to use it at the end of my FRF workouts to simulate fireground intensity.  

The BM is easy to use and cleans quickly so it can be used by your entire crew.  This is a great gift for any firefighter looking to take their training and fitness to the next level.   

Click here to order your BlastMask

#7. Crackyl Magazine Subscription  

What is Crackyl Magazine?  CRACKYL Magazine is a publication dedicated to the well-being of firefighters across North America and beyond, providing relatable and applicable content covering our pillars: health, lifestyle, finances, stress, fitness & nutrition, relationships, and more.   In the latest issue, you catch James Geering from Behind the Shield Podcast (click here for a great episode), who shares his experiences on firefighter sleep and health.  Members of the FRF nation can get a FREE digital subscription here.

#8.  TRX Suspension Trainer System.  

Suspension training, such as the popular TRX system, is a crucial tool for fire rescue athletes. It provides functional strength across various movements and on unstable surfaces, essential for the demands of the job. This form of training emphasizes balance, coordination, and overall strength, mirroring the skills required during fireground operations. Additionally, it fosters core endurance by engaging multiple muscle groups, making it an efficient workout option.

One of the standout advantages of suspension training is its adaptability to different fitness levels. By adjusting exercise angles and body positioning in relation to the anchor point, individuals can easily modify resistance levels. Furthermore, these workouts are enjoyable and dynamic, allowing for continual challenges through small adjustments in grip or stance.

The TRX system stands out as a top choice for first responders due to its versatility and effectiveness. I believe every first responder should have access to one at their station and home. For those interested in incorporating TRX into their routine, FRF offers a comprehensive program called Hero X that can be performed anywhere – whether at the gym, home, or firehouse.

Click here for TRX options.


#9.  Percussion/ Massage Gun.   

As first responders, we routinely drag, step, pull, lift, and carry heavy objects which leads to achy and sore muscles.  As you read, a great way to help manage these aches and pains is with a foam roller (see #1).  Another way is to use a gun or machine that can do it for us.

If you have picked up any fitness magazine, performed a fitness-related search on the internet, or watched your favorite sports team, you’ve probably seen a percussion gun. These industrial-looking machines (also called massage guns, massagers, power massagers, or muscle guns) are handheld electronic tools that use a small motor to move a soft plastic or foam attachment back and forth or side to side, which you can use to rub, compress, and jiggle different parts of your body. There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes of these guns along with a vast array of attachments that go with them. I actually created a post about the various options and attachments available, you can read that by clicking here. 

There are a lot of different options on the market, a lot of which are overpriced.   I have used very expensive guns and not-so-expensive guns and could not really tell the difference.  The best options include a case to keep all the attachments and the charging cord handy.  Here is a great option to start with.  I also have a mini-gun that I put in my bag and take with me on the road. has the best assortment of them available.  

Which is a better gift option for those aching muscles- the peanut foam roller or the massage gun?  They both are.  Percussion guns can be used to accompany foam rolling (and visa-versa) and hit muscle groups from different angles and at different intensities.  When both are used they can improve recovery.


#10.  Legion Athletics -Whey+  Protein 

If your firehouse is anything like mine you will see canisters and bags of protein scattered in various places. The problem I see with 90% of the proteins found around firehouses is that they all use chemical sweeteners and have some unknown "proprietary blend." Which in most cases means they are using the cheapest "blend" of proteins they can find.

Over the years, I have tried a lot of proteins and finally found a company that I like. Legion Athletics uses minimal and high-quality ingredients and puts a ton of research behind its products. I started using their WHEY+ protein and love it- it mixes well, has great taste, and the ingredients are very high quality.

It is 100% natural whey protein isolate powder made with Truly Grass Fed milk from small dairy farms in Ireland renowned for their superior and sustainable farming practices.
This unique protein powder will help your muscles spring back after an intense workout and can also boost your metabolism.   Both vanilla and chocolate taste great and mix well with milk and/or water.  Each scoop has 25g of protein.  I like to mix chocolate with some frozen berries for my post-workout shake. Give it a try!  Use the code GETFRF for 20% off your first order.

Click here to order this great protein mix.



#11.  Built Snack Bars. 

Long shifts and calls can create havoc on a first responders' appetite and food choices.  If you, as a first responder, are not prepared with some healthy go-to snacks you are bound to make some bad nutritional choices.  This is true for any profession but it seems to affect first responders a little more because most firehouses and EMS facilities have baked goods and candy always available.

This is where the Built Bar can come in handy! I like to have a couple of these handy throughout my shift and day.  They have a good amount of nutrition with some good fiber and protein and they taste great.  The only issue you might have is that they do contain sugar alcohols that, if you eat too many in a day can cause some bloating and gas.  Which, actually is not a bad thing, it helps you only eat one or two a day.   The chart below shows why these Built Bars are one of the better options for a quick and tasty snack.  There are a lot of flavors to choose from and the company likes to introduce new ones each month.  I love the Cherry Barcia, Salted Carmel, and/or the Cookies N' Cream flavors.  You can also mix and match flavors which would make a great gift option.

Click here to get Built Bars at a 15% discount, use code GETFRF.



Stay motivated to reach your fitness goals with this comfortable FRF sweatshirt! It is crafted for comfort; this lighter-weight sweatshirt is perfect for a workout and for relaxing. Once put on, it will be impossible to take off.  The hoodie is a 50-50 cotton/ poly blend that is medium weight and runs true to size.  A perfect addition to your workout program! This hoodie is so comfy it will be your favorite.


Click here to get this motivating and comfortable FRF hoodie


There you go, twelve of the best gifts for that first responder in your life and/or twelve ways to splurge on yourself if you are a first responder.  There is no greater return on a gift than promoting one's health and fitness.

I hope this list helps you complete your holiday shopping.  Please reach out (click here to contact Zam) with any questions and comments.

I look forward to seeing you in the FRF Challenge and hope to help you become a more Resilient and Fit Responder in 2023!

Be Safe, Be Grateful, Be Humble, and GET FRF!





-ZAM  (Aaron Zamzow)



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