Training Days: Firefighter Fitness and Wellness

Training Days: Firefighter Fitness and Wellness
A member of the wellness/fitness committee begins a class intended to educate firefighters on a number of ways to keep us fit and healthy.

By Tom Kiurski

On this training day, we were faced with a situation that most firefighter training divisions don't have to deal with very often. The wellness-fitness coordinators in my department, Livonia (MI) Fire Department, asked to have a week to go over issues that pertain to wellness and fitness. The perfect springboard to this is the Fire/EMS Safety, Health, and Survival Week, recognized every June. I was to open the week and they were to be available for the classes they felt most appropriate.

We covered the basics of nutrition and making healthful food choices at the firehouse (and at home). This turned out to be a great class, and many members commented on how much they had learned. One thing that many instructors know is that the message may have to be repeated to catch firefighters in a position to learn, since sometimes they aren't at their best. Colds, issues with children, and financial concerns can all wear us down from time to time. Getting the message out from different instructors at different times has a better chance of catching firefighters "ready" to absorb the information presented. These messages were repeated throughout the week and were available for members to watch on DVD after the class had finished.

Another topic covered is the fitness opportunities offered by our fire department. Though we don't have the greatest equipment in the world, we do have fitness equipment in each station. This segment of the program covered the fitness equipment at every station and how to use it properly and safely. A binder of fitness DVDs was handed out to each station during this week. The program also covered the different DVDs in each binder at the stations and what was on each DVD. Some were shorter workouts; others were longer and more intense. This overview was informative to members so they could get an idea of which DVDs may be a good fit for them.

Another segment of this week's training is the "Core Stability Training for Injury Prevention." In this course, we looked at some statistics on when firefighters were most likely to get injured and what injuries were most likely to be incurred. Then there were plenty of tips offered on how to strengthen your body "core" to help us reduce the chances of becoming injured while performing the typical tasks of firefighting across the country.

We are blessed with many talented firefighters who take wellness and fitness seriously. It is even better that they are willing to step up and teach their fellow firefighters what they have learned to help look out for each other. This is a blessing to any training coordinator.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs, the sponsor of the Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week, has a wealth of information on its Web site that can be used to help put together a program like ours. By checking a few other fire Web sites, you can pick up a lot of additional information that can be added to the presentation. By looking at the theme of the week, it is pretty wide open in its scope of messages, so don't feel "locked in" by following a program like ours. Develop your own; make it personal.

Tom KiurskiTom Kiurski is training coordinator, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999), is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.

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