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As 2015 draws to a close, it is a good time to ask yourself where you stand in terms of your personal attitude, accountability and the action you take on your own health and fitness.  As a member of the fire service, it is probably the one thing that you can improve upon on a personal level that has the most influence on every other part of your life and all of the people that are a part of it.

Your impact is more powerful than you may think.  Every day, whether you are on duty or off, the community you serve,  your families at home, and your brothers and sisters at the station hold you to a higher standard -- a standard that comes along with the privilege of being a part of our great profession.  Everyone, and I mean everyone that you interact with holds certain expectations of you as public servant, and this is a good thing.  Unfortunately, not everyone in the fire service looks at what we do as a blessing.  If you do not hold the same high standards for yourself as others do, you are not keeping up your end of the bargain. 

Be a Champion

You have a wonderful opportunity. 

You may not realize it, but your personal commitment to improvement and your demonstration of the importance of caring for yourself both physically and mentally has a tremendous influence on those around you.

What can one person do?

Nearly every day, I am contacted by someone that has made a small change in their approach to personal fitness and wellness.  Some have the right attitude but haven't taken action on it until now.  Some take action in one aspect of fitness but know they could do better in another.  Some are totally committed on a personal level but want their organizations to improve as well. 

Whatever the case may be for you, know that small, positive changes like these can have an exponential effect: 

  • Drink less soda and more water
  • Do a daily blood pressure check
  • Get a comprehensive annual medical evaluation
  • Start a new workout regimen that focuses on functional fitness
  • Get more (uninterrupted) sleep
  • Move more; sit less

You have the responsibility to demonstrate your commitment and your appreciation for what you do.  Starting right now, you can become a part of a healthier fire service.  You can walk the talk; you can become a champion. 

Talk is cheap

What legacy will you leave for future firefighters? Will you leave an attitude of entitlement and complacency, or will you reinforce Ben Franklin's ideology that well done is better than well said? 

You can be a champion; a champion that is ready to promote the right attitude, accountability and action.   Move beyond an intellectual agreement that firefighter health and wellness is vital to a long and healthy career and retirement.  Demonstrate your commitment, and you will have taken the first step in joining the movement to reduce health-related LODDs in the fire service.  

Dan Kerrigan is a 29-year fire service veteran and an assistant fire marshal/deputy emergency management coordinator and department health and fitness coordinator for the East Whiteland Township Department of Codes and Life Safety in Chester County, PA, and the Director of The First Twenty’s Firefighter Functional Training Advisory Panel. Kerrigan also acts as an IAFC-VCOS representative for the National Near Miss Reporting Program.

 

Kerrigan is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and holds a Master’s Degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership. He is a PA State Fire Academy Suppression Level Instructor as well as an adjunct professor at Anna Maria College, Neumann University, and Immaculata University.

 

Kerrigan is a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for firefighter health and wellness. He has conducted original research on firefighter functional fitness as well as other fire service leadership topics, and he presents on a variety of topics including building construction, fire dynamics, strategic planning, and fire service leadership. He is a contributor to Fire Engineering Magazine, Firehouse Magazine, Hooks and Hooligans, IAFC, Fire Department Concepts, NVFC, and the IAEM. Kerrigan was the 2014 recipient of the IAFC-VCOS Emerging Leader Scholarship sponsored by Dr. Richard Gasaway.

 

Contact Kerrigan at dkerrigan@eastwhiteland.org. You can also connect with Kerrigan on Facebook and LinkedIn, and follow him on Twitter @dankerrigan911.  Follow The First Twenty on Twitter @thefirsttwenty.

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