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This chart came from a 2002 federal study which allocates the type of injuries firefighters sustain during certain types of activities. Strain, Sprain, and Muscular Pain are the biggest factors to missed days off of work. The most common body part to sustain these injuries is the lower back which can be attributed to a combination of poor body mechanics, decreased core strength, decreased flexibility, decreased activity tolerance/endurance for continuous activity and then there are always the unforeseeable accidents. As we get older a few things happen to our bodies, first the muscles become tighter losing their flexibility which the hamstrings and hip flexors are known for this and causes an increase in pull upon our lumbar spines when performing certain job functions and daily routines. We also start to gain weight and tend to become less active which affects our cardio health and on top of it all off, our muscles eventually start to no longer gain strength unless we work at it. The best workouts to participate in are ones which increase your physical strength for the entire body while utilizing the smaller stabilizing muscles and activates the core muscles. A good exercise program should also look to increase your aerobic and anaerobic conditioning levels since a firefighter is expected to go from sleeping to fitting a fire within minutes. This puts a lot of stress upon the cardiovascular system, which causes it to fluctuate between periods of short to long durations of heavy workloads with periods of rest in between. When looking to exercise, you need to also include nutrition into that program to assure your body has the fuel it needs to function properly to develop strength and not steal from muscle development.

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Comment by Jeff Betz on March 20, 2008 at 12:02pm
We don't have a mandatory program, but fitness is encouraged and supported by the Chief. We are submitting for funds this year to improve our equipment. We had our best fitness supporter resign this last year; she was a firefighter with a degree in exercise science and did a great job for us. The large majority of us stay pretty fit, while a few are not doing so well. I really worry about those few, more than the others for obvious reasons. Thanks for the information Mike I have found it useful.
Comment by Frank Ricci on March 20, 2008 at 7:08am
Departments need to be more proactive with wellness programs that are put in place for the betterment of the department. These programs should be carefully crafted to ensure they are not punitive. When I worked in Montgomery County it was conducive to exercising and staying fit. The department provided proper facilities to work out and encouraged members to conduct fitness as a group. It also built team work. Montgomery County implemented there program in small steps that allowed all members to buy into the program. My current department is on the opposite end of the spectrum and we will continue to advocate for a wellness program.

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