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  1. #1
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    Default Austin, TX Bans Firefighters from Sports On-Duty

    The Austin, TX Fire Department has barred its firefighters from playing sports on duty. Too dangerous they say after more than 100 firefighters were injured over the past four years playing games like vollyball and basketball.

    Does your department have similiar policies? Had experience in the past with issues related to sports injuries on duty? Share them here.

    Read the story at http://www.firehouse.com/news/2001/7/7_APsports.html


  2. #2
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    I have long been aware of the fact that F/F's doing physical activity get hurt more than those who sit on their duff's and don't take any risks. I only wish that the stories author would have looked into the rate of emergancy scene injuries that were suffered by the ones that take part in the Physical fitness activities compared to injuries suffered by those who don't. Does anyone know how Fire Service on duty Physical Fitness activity injuries compare to other workers who spend the weekends/evening's giving it their all?

  3. #3
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    Firefighters that sit on their rears all day will get hurt easier than those that do not. Those on duty claims while on calls will increase dramatically in time and the cost will be more than that of the sports injuries.

  4. #4
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    The downside to on-duty sports is that people get hurt, and time is lost. The upsides are that you're all getting a work-out, not to mention that it's fun, and that makes the station a better place to be for everyone. We all know that there are individuals that were it not for the station sports would not get any exercise. I think the bottom line is that sports are good for the firefighters, which is good for the department, and it just needs to be looked at as a cost of doing business.

  5. #5
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    I think exercise in the station is a good idea. As firefighters are subjected to very physical duties and stressfull situations that require good cardiovascular, and physical stamina to be able to perform such duties. If playing basketball or volleyball helps them to maintain the physical abilities to perform their job then let them do it. What is the difference in this and possibly slipping on treadmill or stepper, or tearing a muscle lifting weights.

  6. #6
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    The real reason the AFD is not allowed to play sports on shift is not due to sports injuries, but more about the city manager and command staff controlling every aspect of the day to day activities of its fire fighters. It is micromanagement at its finest. The statitics on the injuries are just the excuse they use to jusify their decisions. Everything that they can take away from us, and the more we as a fire fighters let them, the more they will control us. I often wonder why we even have company officers in the AFD, when they are not allowed to make any decisions in their own companies. The taking of the basketball goals struck an already raw nerve with the rank and file of this dept. How many other depts out there have a fire chief who is member of their union, but a negotition time sits on the city's side of the table?

  7. #7
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    Here in Plano,TX. we are not allowed to play and sports that involve a ball. So we play badmitton ,hockey, and pool.

  8. #8
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    My department has banned basketball for the time. For years we have had injury after injury. playing basketball sometimes gets to be a full contact sport.

  9. #9
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    The City of McAllen has done the same due to injuries. Except we have weights, stair climers, and treadmills at all six stations, and will soon be implementing a wellness program.
    But I don't see why a game of basketball, or volleyball will hurt anyone as long as we know are limits and keep or game clean (no rough stuff)

  10. #10
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    A little sound risk management. Obviously from the previous posts they are from firefighters. Problem is firefighters don't set policy. Thousands of dollars are spent everywhere I have been to purchase exercise equipment. How do you explain to elected officials that personnel are not available to staff emergency response equipment for extended periods of time due to sports injuries. We have all enjoyed participating but who in the long run pays for our lack of willingness to participate in low threat strength and cardio exercise. Having the same results but maybe a little less enjoyable!
    Put yourself in the shoes of the senior fire officer having to make this controversial decision and I think you might agree with it as a sound business decision.

  11. #11
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    Austin, TX
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    What helped prompted this was that a rookie one week out of the academy twisted his ankle playing basketball. Command Staff was not happy about it. I don't miss it because I never played basketball or volley ball. In fact, in the two years that I have been with AFD I have not been at a station yet that plays those sports. The actual policy states that AFD member may not participate in any sports that involve physical contact.
    Stay Safe

  12. #12
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    Starting aug 1 2001 Anne Arundel County FD MD will allow contact sports on duty. Contact Sports were band a while back because of the number of injuries. A new wellness and fitness program for firefighters features a manditory 20 min walk for ALL dept employees. Sports and exercise, other than a 20 min walk, are now allowed with a department release form (that basicly states the employee is physically able do so)signed by a DR. from each employee.

    [ 07-05-2001: Message edited by: AAFDfado ]

  13. #13
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    Rather than banning sports, maybe they should work on enforcing the rules of the game. Playing team sports reduces stress, builds teamwork, and increases morale. Have them wear kneepads, helmets, ankle tape... whatever it takes to reduce injuries. I know a lot of people who won't spend 5 minutes on exercise equipment, but give them a good game of volleyball or basketball, and they'll exercise for hours. The repetitive motion of exercise equipment can't compare to the real workout you get from playing sports. I would think the benefits would far outweigh the risks in the long run. Active firefighters are better able to perform their job and less likely to injure themselves when it really matters.

  14. #14
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    Most exercise programs cause injury, regarless if it is sports related or weight/workout related. Basketball and Volleyball are less strenuous sports, as long as the Basketball physical contact is limited, unjuries will be at a minumum. Firefighters need some kind of physical exercise other than just weights & treadmill (although both are good). In my 10+ years of being in public safety, I have seen more injuries from weights than from sports.
    (This is just an observation and my opinion only)
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  15. #15
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    Our department recently instituted a morning Physical fitness program and so far it has been a great motivator. I have worked for departments that have had this situation before and the only problems I have seen occur are persons finding out that their physical limitations are less than they were when they were a teenager and injuring themselves trying to push the limits their bodies have set for them. Thus far my current employer is very open with this program and they do not force it on anyone, in fact they required us to be checked by our physicians prior to participation. Physical fitness is great for public services such as police and fire departments.null

  16. #16
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    I can see both sides of the issue. You have management that is watching the bottom line and labor that wants the action. I would like to keep the option of playing sports for excercise. However; we firefighters need to remember that we are not like Mike when playing basketball and police ourselves with the contact.

  17. #17
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    Clearly, the decision to ban this type of physical activity was a management and fiscal responsibility issue. Our department does not ban this activity but we have neighboring jurisdictions that do. Yes, its not popular with the workforce, but there are other methods of physical activity that provide the cardiovascular and strength training required for firefighters. Maybe the money saved on injuries could be used for other p.t. equipment or incentives. If nothing else would that money be avail. toward salaries? Three hundred thousand a year would fund 6 more firefighter positions in our department.

  18. #18
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    My crew and I got into a little trouble playing wiffleball in the side yard of the station with kids from around the neighborhood. I don't understand. We were getting some PT in, and we were doing some good PR with the neighbors too. So instead of getting those two things accomplished, we now sit on the couch and chair and do nothing
    Cappy

  19. #19
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    This is an interesting thread... I'm not real clear though. Is the ban from contact sports? or from any sports at all because of contact during no contact sports?

    If the ban is from contact sports, that is quite reasonable.

    If the ban is because of injuries received by some from participating in full contact basketball, it seems to be on the surface a knee jerk reaction. Why not ban contact sports on duty, and then discipline those who ignore the bans?

    Sure, Staff could require all sorts of mandatory fitness stuff, but that is usually a joke. With sports, everyone usually joins in, and often times it becomes the beginning of some sort of work out program.

    Oh well... just remember... Chiefs come and go, but Firefighters are forever.....

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