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The Biggest Loser - Firefighter Style

Like many fire departments, North Saint Paul Fire Department (NSPFD) in Minnesota was looking not just for a little internal competition, but also a way to get in shape for summer, and a way of launching what it hopes to be an ongoing commitment to physical fitness and a healthier lifestyle for its 39 firefighters. It was determined the best way to begin moving in that direction was a “Biggest Loser” competition, with the winner getting four Minnesota Twins baseball tickets. This initial competition was optional and it initially looked like only seven or eight firefighters were going to sign-up, but by the night of the first weigh-in, 19 members (18 males and one female) had entered the competition.

NSPFD had the initial weigh-in and kick-off on May 4 following their training. I had an opportunity to talk to them on training, fueling, and a few tips I have used during my training prior to their weigh-in. The competition is going to run until July 6. Yes, they were going to have to survive Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and just before crossing the finish line, the challenge of the 4th of July. They decided to have weigh-ins every two weeks and a final weigh-in. The winner will be the individual who loses the most weight by the July 6.

Each individual, for the most part, was left to develop their own workout programs and diets, though the department is putting up online assignments via e-mail on dieting and working out to assist the competitors. All the competitors also have access to the NSP Community Center, which has weights, cardiovascular equipment, a gymnasium, and offers a variety of fitness classes to its members. Those participating were encouraged to work out with a partner and group circuit training sessions are being conducted at the NSPFD station.

1-Hour Circuit Workout

Stretch (Ballistic/Active)
Stair Climb w/ Apartment Bundle3 Xs Up and Down = 1
Hammer Chops20 seconds
Kettle Bell Squats20 seconds
Pike Poll Push-Ups20 seconds
Medicine Ball Touches20 seconds
Equipment Lift & Hose Tower ClimbRaise 50’ rolled hose 2 Xs
Hose Workout – 50’ 1 ½” Hose20 seconds – each – rotate partners after each exercise
Ax Chops
Upper Cuts
Tailboard Push-ups & Dips
20 push-ups
20 decline push-ups (feet on tailboard)
20 dips
Band Rows20 seconds

At this point, NSPFD is four weeks into the competition and had their first weigh-in on May 18. Seventeen of the 19 competitors were present for the weigh-in and, collectively, the 17 members have lost 49.5 pounds in two weeks. The average weight loss was 4.6%, with some slightly higher and some slightly lower.

I am going to be following and checking in with the NSPFD during their competition to see how it is going, talk with individual competitors about their training programs and diets, take a look at the circuit training they are conducting, and be present for their final weigh-in and the crowning of the Biggest Loser!

For more information on how they developed, launched, and conducted the competition. You can contact Dustin Kalis, Fire Marshall at or Jason Mallinger, Deputy Chief at

Until next time, stay safe and hydrate!

SCOTT TOMEK MA, EMT-P has been a paramedic for 25 years with 23 of those at Lakeview Hospital EMS in Stillwater, MN. He is a faculty member with the Century College Paramedic Program and wrote the curriculum for and served as the interim director of their public safety degree program. He is a frequent contributor to EMS World Magazine, a frequent presenter at EMS conferences in the Midwest and an educational consultant to fire and EMS services. View all of Scott's articles and podcasts hereHe can be reached at