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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Mayor prohibits FF's to work out on duty

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,6313641.story

    chicagotribune.com

    Berwyn mayor, alarmed over injury claims, pulls firefighters' workout equipment

    Berwyn mayor bars use of firehouse exercise equipment, cites injury worries

    By Joseph Ruzich

    Special to the Tribune

    February 5, 2009


    Berwyn Firefighter Stephen Petergal is recuperating quickly after undergoing surgery for a hernia he suffered while working out at the firehouse but, months later, he and fellow firefighters are still feeling the repercussions.

    Just days after Petergal, 51, was injured while walking on a treadmill in late November, Berwyn Mayor Michael O'Connorófed up with a spike in workers compensation claimsódecided to prohibit the use of firehouse exercise equipment to prevent other firefighters from getting hurt on the taxpayers' dime.

    The firefighters union filed a grievance against O'Connor demanding a right to use the equipment. City officials said the issue is expected to be decided by an arbitrator.

    "At some point, you have to say 'enough is enough,' " said O'Connor. "It's not about Stephen getting hurt. It's not about the firefighters. We've been paying $6 million in workman's comp claims [all city departments] since June of 2004.

    "You know, people need to take responsibly and stop blaming the city for their injuries. People need to sacrifice a little during these tough times."

    Petergal, an Oak Park resident and firefighter of 22 years, said he had to file a worker's compensation claim or his health insurance wouldn't pay for an "at work" injury. But a city human resources official said the injury would have been covered anyway and Petergal's decision to file a claim was a conscious choice.

    Berwyn Fire Chief Denis O'Halloran said taking away the equipment has "affected the morale of the firefighters." O'Halloran said most suburban fire houses have exercise equipment. In Cicero and Forest Park, firefighters are able to exercise during down time, officials there said.

    Petergal said firefighters are at more risk of injury if they don't exercise regularly.

    "Now firefighters may be at risk of becoming overweight," said Petergal. "We don't want a firefighter to have a heart attack while out on an emergency call. Think about how much that will cost the city."

    But O'Connor said firefighters should exercise at home or use the equipment at the police station during off hours. "I do think firefighters should be in good shape," said O'Connor. "But other city employees aren't allowed to exercise during work hours. The police can't exercise on city time. Why should the firefighters be any different?"

    Tom Hayes, president of the Berwyn Firefighters Union Local 506, said firefighters in Berwyn (as in many towns) work 24-hour shifts, making it difficult to follow a regular exercise program during off-hours.

    He said Petergal is the first firefighter injured on city exercise equipment. The department has 61 firefighters.

    "My firefighters are really upset," said Hayes. "Our job is strenuous, and studies have shown that firefighters have a higher risk of heart disease. Healthy firefighters make for a better Fire Department."

    Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune




    Yes, the pompous mayor does have an e-mail address: moconnor@ci.berwyn.il.us

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    what a knee jerk reaction. Weak bodies are more prone to injuries. If they are concerned about the guys injuring themselves while working out, have an education program on how to properly exercise.

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    What a MUTT!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    I think it's nice to see a chief stick up for his men for once!! Too often we are reading about Chief's throwing thier guys under the bus.

    Sounds like a Mayor is a tool, and everyone knows it!!
    A Fire Chief has ONLY 1 JOB and that's to take care of his fireman. EVERYTHING else falls under this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    I think it's nice to see a chief stick up for his men for once!! Too often we are reading about Chief's throwing thier guys under the bus.

    Sounds like a Mayor is a tool, and everyone knows it!!


    Which is why I never understood why positions like the Fire Chief are appointed positions at will of the Mayor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hatchmaster View Post
    But O'Connor said firefighters should exercise at home or use the equipment at the police station during off hours. "I do think firefighters should be in good shape," said O'Connor. "But other city employees aren't allowed to exercise during work hours. The police can't exercise on city time. Why should the firefighters be any different?"
    Well first, show me any police department where officers work a 24 hour shift.

    Secondly if you want to take away workout equipment for FF's on duty, then the city should pony up for gym memberships for firefighters. Expecting them to go to the cop shop is ridiculous. Not sure of residency requirements in Berwyn, but I know of several depts in the Chicago burbs where FF's live outside the city. Expecting them to drive, for some up to 30 minutes to an hour, to work out at the cop shop is stupid. Politicians just do not think or have any foresight whatsoever. Freaking morons.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    I think it's nice to see a chief stick up for his men for once!! Too often we are reading about Chief's throwing thier guys under the bus.

    Sounds like a Mayor is a tool, and everyone knows it!!
    Yes, it's quite refreshing.
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    In all reality, the city has no responsibility for providing exercise equipment.

    There is no reason the members can't work out on their own time and their own dime. The job of firefighting requires that members have some level of physical fitness. It's their responsibility to be physically fit. No different than any other physical job that requires fitness, such as a roofer or construction worker, or cop. Most of those employees are not allowed to workout while on the clock. Same situation with a job that requires somebody to be licensed and/or certified, as an example and the employee is required to pick up the cost of that on their own. It's nice if the employer helps out with the cost of licensing and certifications, but they don't have the responsibility of paying for the licenses or certifications unless there is a contractual responsibility to do so.

    My past employer at the ambo provided free training, however, when it came time to test, it was my responsibility to pay for the testing and travel.

    My fire department pays for all training, testing fees, travel and accommodations involved in training for all career and volunteer members. We are also allowed to workout on duty if time permits (usually not the case though).

    If workman comp claims are that high, and firefighters working out has been identified as part of the cause, it's the city's responsibility to the taxpayers to lower those costs, especially since their personel can workout in thier off-time.

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    The Department of Defense mandates that all civilian Federal Firefighters shall workout every shift. Not sure what the minimum time was, but we received 1.5 hours out of our 8-hour "work" day to work out and to shower afterwards.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Ridiculous, the Mayor can't see that if the FF was injured walking on a treadmill, he was a likely candidate for a fireground injury which may have been far worse for himself, other FFers or the citizens he was helping.

    As Nameless said, in shape firefighters are far less prone to injury. The injuries we see tend to be those who don't work out or do much of anything then wonder why they get hurt slipping on the ice.

    Our FD has a mix of city owned, Union purchased and private equipment in the station for use. We work 24s, and every firefighter is given 1 hour a day out of the "working day" (7-1600) to work out and can use the equipment anytime after 1600 or on days off. We also have personal trainer that comes in twice a week, though those of us who use that service pay $10/hr out of pocket for it.

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    About the article, way to look out for your most important asset, your employees. Someone called the mayor a tool, I would have to say he's the whole toolbox.

    Maybe they should invest in the Peer-Fitness trainer program offered by the IAFF/IAFC. It's a very good class. Been there, done that, got the card to prove it. LOL

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    In all reality, the city has no responsibility for providing exercise equipment.

    There is no reason the members can't work out on their own time and their own dime. The job of firefighting requires that members have some level of physical fitness. It's their responsibility to be physically fit. No different than any other physical job that requires fitness, such as a roofer or construction worker, or cop. Most of those employees are not allowed to workout while on the clock. Same situation with a job that requires somebody to be licensed and/or certified, as an example and the employee is required to pick up the cost of that on their own. It's nice if the employer helps out with the cost of licensing and certifications, but they don't have the responsibility of paying for the licenses or certifications unless there is a contractual responsibility to do so.

    My past employer at the ambo provided free training, however, when it came time to test, it was my responsibility to pay for the testing and travel.

    My fire department pays for all training, testing fees, travel and accommodations involved in training for all career and volunteer members. We are also allowed to workout on duty if time permits (usually not the case though).

    If workman comp claims are that high, and firefighters working out has been identified as part of the cause, it's the city's responsibility to the taxpayers to lower those costs, especially since their personel can workout in thier off-time.
    Now to LaFireEducator.......If an employer requires you to hold any type of certification or attend any class to keep your job, they have to provide for it and compensate you while attending. Forking out your own time and money for any class/certification would be akin to them saying "you need turnout gear to work here but we are not going to buy it." You and your fellow F/F's should consult a labor lawyer.
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    The employer should pay for certifications and licenses, but I don't believe in most places they are required to.

    The law regarding this may vary by state.

    I know that in LA, the employer is required to offer training required by OSHA and state law at no cost but is not required to provide training to acquire or maintain certifications and licenses or pay for certifications and licenses required for the job, or are they required to provide training for advanced skills unless it's described as a basic job function.

    Example - If you are assigned to an engine and your job description does not normally include rope rescue, the FD i not required to provide that training. If it is a normal function, they are.

    Fire departments are required to provide turnout gear because it's required by OSHA.

    Most fire departments do pay for routine training expenses such as the academy, CPR and such. Some fire departments pay for EMT or paramedic but often there is a time/service agreement, especially for paramedic. Some departments will pay for higher-cost fire training. Some will not.

    Some require these for advancement, and if you want to be promoted, you take the classes at your own cost.

    Most do as a way to keep staff and recruit volunteers.

    As far as the treadmill, cities are looking to cut costs everywhere. This will include workman's comp. In LA, the system is setup in a way that all it takes is one claim to have your rates double or triple. If it's a bigger claim or you have multiple claims, they could climb even more.

    So here, employers are very concerned about that.

    There has been discussion in our own department about not allowing members to workout on duty because of this. There has also been discussion about requiring a doctor's clearance before any member can workout at any time. As of now we still can, but we are prohibited from lifting free weights while on the clock due to the injury risk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    In all reality, the city has no responsibility for providing exercise equipment.
    This isn't an issue of the employer providing the equipment. In this case the equipment was already provided and being used. The employer pulled the equipment and prohibited the employees from working out based on a knee jerk reaction. Even if the Union or individuals brought in new equipment they probably wouldn't be able to use it.

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    If workman comp claims are that high, and firefighters working out has been identified as part of the cause, it's the city's responsibility to the taxpayers to lower those costs, especially since their personel can workout in thier off-time.
    The article states:
    "At some point, you have to say 'enough is enough,' " said O'Connor. "It's not about Stephen getting hurt. It's not about the firefighters. We've been paying $6 million in workman's comp claims [all city departments] since June of 2004
    and
    He said Petergal is the first firefighter injured on city exercise equipment. The department has 61 firefighters.
    This is about the city taking a one-time incident and treating it like it's systemic. If the article is correct this move will do nothing to lower the workman comp claims and may eventually increase them.
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    My employer knows the value of healthy employees, and as such pays 100% of the annual physical as well as $600 per year for a gym membership. Keep in mind 95% of the people are working at desks all day long, there is very little physical work here at all. Only caveat is we have to do it on our own time.

    As a security agency, much like the PD, our employers know it is crazy to have people work more than 12 hours at a rip, the proffered is 8 hours. Reason being that after 8 hours of work ones performance falls off, they are less alert and more prone to mistakes.

    Perhaps the city should build a gym for all of its employees to use on their own time. This would make all employees more productive.

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    Default Good thing..

    GOOD thing the military doesn't have such regressive leadership.

    C'mon Mr. Mayor please pull your head out of your .
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    In all reality, the city has no responsibility for providing exercise equipment.

    There is no reason the members can't work out on their own time and their own dime. The job of firefighting requires that members have some level of physical fitness. It's their responsibility to be physically fit. No different than any other physical job that requires fitness, such as a roofer or construction worker, or cop. Most of those employees are not allowed to workout while on the clock. Same situation with a job that requires somebody to be licensed and/or certified, as an example and the employee is required to pick up the cost of that on their own. It's nice if the employer helps out with the cost of licensing and certifications, but they don't have the responsibility of paying for the licenses or certifications unless there is a contractual responsibility to do so.

    My past employer at the ambo provided free training, however, when it came time to test, it was my responsibility to pay for the testing and travel.

    My fire department pays for all training, testing fees, travel and accommodations involved in training for all career and volunteer members. We are also allowed to workout on duty if time permits (usually not the case though).

    If workman comp claims are that high, and firefighters working out has been identified as part of the cause, it's the city's responsibility to the taxpayers to lower those costs, especially since their personel can workout in thier off-time.
    We know everything is perfect down there in La La land.

    All your comparisons fall short.

    How come the Military allows...wait, mandates, excercise?

    .
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    No different than any other physical job that requires fitness, such as a roofer or construction worker, or cop. Most of those employees are not allowed to workout while on the clock.
    Actually... the work if a firefighter is vastly different than that of a roofer or a contruction worker.

    The day they are the same, then perhaps this comparison would have some validity.

    I always find it interesting when people try to compare firefighters to other occupations selectively to suit their point, but then say they aren't the same to make a different point.

    So the day that firefighters get scheduled breaks throughout the day, including lunch and dinner, then perhaps we can start comparing the work day.

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    when they staff a roofing company 24/7 to allow them to get out the door in under 30 seconds if they have a roofing job, then you can compare our jobs. But firefightering is a unique job where we are paid to be available to respond, our worth is that we are always standing by and can be at your doorstep in 3-5 minutes from the time you called 911.

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    Am I the only one trying to figure out how this guy ended up with a hernia on a treadmill?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    Am I the only one trying to figure out how this guy ended up with a hernia on a treadmill?
    Maybe he was trying to squat it instead of run on it.

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    Perhaps we are looking at this all wrong.

    1. Is Physical Training part of the official Job Description?
    2. Is there a requirement to maintain a certain level of physical fitness?
    3. Are there any response time requirements? How long does it take t oget out of the gym and onto the truck?
    4. Does one go through a rehab cycle before they can pack up? I have to believe a good workout would be equivalent to using one 60 minute bottle of air.

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    Oh wow this will be an interesting fight. The mayor is a joke!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jakesdad View Post
    Maybe he was trying to squat it instead of run on it.
    And maybe he didn't even get the injury at work, but found a way that he could get it taken care of without having to pay his own deductible/co-pay.

    Maybe it's just me, but a hernia from working out on a treadmill sounds a bit fishy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    And maybe he didn't even get the injury at work, but found a way that he could get it taken care of without having to pay his own deductible/co-pay.

    Maybe it's just me, but a hernia from working out on a treadmill sounds a bit fishy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    And maybe he didn't even get the injury at work, but found a way that he could get it taken care of without having to pay his own deductible/co-pay.

    Maybe it's just me, but a hernia from working out on a treadmill sounds a bit fishy.
    Not at all.

    A hernia is merely a tear or opening in the abdominal wall.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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