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You Deserve a Health and Wellness Program


Who is the most valuable asset to the fire service?  You are!  You, the firefighter, are the most valuable, most critical, and most important asset to your fire department!  This is why you follow the Phoenix Model, why scene safety is the first step at any of your EMS scenes, and why you change your strategy and/or tactics when an incident begins to move in an unfavorable direction.  You do all of this to protect our own.

Have the Times Really Changed?

But did you know that you are just as likely to get injured in a fire now as you would have been back in 1981?  Recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) data shows that firefighter injuries per 1,000 fires has not changed substantially over the last 34 years.  We have better tools and appliances, better personal protective equipment (PPE), more definitive policies, and greater understanding of the types of fires we fight.  These improvements are essential for us to do what we do, and you are better because of them.  These essential changes have improved the fire service in terms of a focus on “the firefighter’s office”.  Yet, while the total number of firefighter injuries has decreased somewhat, this decline seems to be occurring in near perfect tandem with the corresponding decrease in fires

Now, consider this:

Within that 34 years, although there have been significant changes that have improved the environment around the firefighter, we have not materially changed the firefighter.  In terms of firefighter injuries and fatalities, this tactic has not been working. 

It’s time you change tactics.  It’s time you focus your efforts on changing you, the firefighter.  It’s time you were part of a health and wellness program.

Firefighter Health and Wellness: Your Key to a Long and Healthy Career

Let me be blunt.  You deserve a health and wellness program.  In order for you to continue being a true asset on the fire ground, your risk of injury must to be reduced. 


A health and wellness program will:


Improve your mental and physical abilities

Reduce the risk of fire ground injury

Increase cardiac efficiency

Increase your work capacity

Increase thermal tolerance



The NFPA, in addition to reporting a lack of reduction change in firefighter injuries over the last 34 years, also reports that the best tactic to change this trend is with an integrated health and wellness program. An integrated health and wellness program has been vital to the success of the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD).  As captain and lead fitness trainer of the MFD, with the support of the administration, I have focused my attention on improving the health and safety of our firefighters. 


Over the past four years alone, the MFD has experienced a 57% reduction in injury claims and a cost savings of an accumulative $1.3 Million dollars.  The MFD health and wellness program is proof that by changing tactics and shifting focus towards improving the health of the firefighter, you can change this tragic trend.  Passive approaches to firefighter health and wellness have not and will not change the disturbing trend of firefighter injuries. 


Change your focus.  Change your methods.  Change your tactics.  Incorporate a health and wellness program into your fire department.  Take care of your brothers and sisters.  Take care of yourself.  Take care of the fire service’s greatest assets.  You deserve to be developed intrinsically.  You deserve improved safety. 


You deserve a health and wellness program.


This article was written by guest blog contributor Jordan Ponder. Ponder is a Captain with the Milwaukee (WI) Fire Department assigned to Engine 30. As an NASM and ACE certified trainer, he is the lead peer fitness trainer for the MFD holding multiple functional fitness certifications. Along with being a professional bodybuilder for the WNBF, he is the director of FIREFIGHTER DYNAMIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING which trains health improving safety with workshops, certifications and consultations. You can contact Captain Ponder via email at

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