We need more focus on the #1 killer of FF's
I wish firefighters and the fire service looked more into and what is really killing our firefighters and that is heart attack or heart related problems, and the overall fitness of most firefighters in this profession both career and volunteer. The 10 year study conducted by the NFPA was just released and with no big suprise 44% of all firefighter deaths were related to heart problems, the next was death due to asphyxiation and the 3rd was due to some type of trauma accident. My question is what is your fire department doing to promote awarness to the true #1 killer of firefighters? I think everyone has or is hoping on the RIT band wagon, developed IC systems, better accountability systems, much better and light weight equipment such as better SCBA's and turnout gear, NFPA 1710/1720 standards, 2 in 2 out laws, save our own training, Safety Officers...the list goes on and on.
First of all dont get me wrong...these are all excellent programs for our overall safety, I'm for each and every one of them, but it seems to me that nothing or nobody wants to really work on what is really killing firefighters and thats our health and overall fitness. I know my department has finally come to some type of aggremment between our administration and union to develop some type of fitness standard for all members, this was really a sticky issue and highly debated. We had many concerns from our firefighters as to what if a members fails the fitness standard or cant get to the level the department has set, Do they lose their job? These were all legit concerns, and believe me there were much more concerns than this one. For 2003 all members will go through a personal baseline fitness evaluation where the only ones who will know the results will be the firefighter and the fitness evaluator, all records will be kept confidential at our health plan office. After 1 year after the baseline evaluation all members will go through it again to see if there was any improvement, after that I'm not sure what will take place, I'm just happy we finally has something in place. We have plenty of time and work out equipment in the station to help try and get to the level we need to be at. I'm also a member of a small volunteer department and as far as the issue of fitness goes, its never been a concern or even looked at, and I'm sure it never will.
We all know firefighting is one of the most stressfull and physically demanding professions in all the world, why is it that we can put so much energy in implementing RIT teams and procedures but cant do more to lower this 44% issue. I know improving our overall fitness and health is not that easy, it takes a big personal commitment and change of life style, but I feel if you are going to do this line of work we owe it to ourselves, our families, and our fellow firefighters.
We can go from 0 to 60 at the drop of a tone, thats alot of stress on our body's before we even get to the fire scene to perform all the strenuous duties that need to take place.
I wish firefighters and the fire service looks at this 44% stat a little more seriously and put just as much energy in this as we are inventing all these other standards and practices. I very rarely read any articles on overall health and fitness in all the fire service magazines, and for sure hardly anything on this important issue in any of these threads. We need to work on whatever it takes to lower that 44% stat our job is dangerous enough.
Good Luck...and stay safe !!
Happy new year to everyone
You can lead a horse to water-----
Chief, I agree with you 100%.The matter of fitness of our ff should be a top priority.However, motivating people to make healthy life choices is a very difficult thing to do.As you stated,we develop better accountability, FAST ,state of the art SCBA's and communication but we're falling over from other factors.If 44% died of heart attacks, the statistics don't include how many are placed on permanent or partial disability.
The media bombards us constantly with information on health, excercise and diet.There is no excuse of "I didn't know about that."It's a matter of choice. Most of the new folks I see coming into the fire/ems services seem to be in better shape than in the past, but I wonder how they will fare in 10-12 yrs. My own dept secured the use of the local high school's weight and training facility for use by zone fd's. It started with only 6-8 of a possible 120 or so and has dwidled to none in the past year. We encourage people to use the facility and it's FREE.
Just look at the ff forums health and fitness category,2 posts and 1 reply in 30 days. Put something on about how many light bars you can run, which strobes are the brightest, or do you run mauve trucks and you'll have 80 posts on each subject in 2 hours.
We have met hte enemy AND HE IS US!