Mid-Atlantic Rescue Systems, Inc.

Main Content


5-5-5 Firefighter Fitness: “A New Year, A New You”

avatar image
January 01, 2017 | NATIONAL Robert “Pip” Piparo, Columnist
This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

Let me start by saying this...I’ve only ever made one New Year’s resolution that I have actually kept. Well it’s that time of year again, where we all over-indulge in the awesomeness of the holiday season and then make our amazing New Year’s resolutions, including our new goals and the “it’s time to change” moment. With some very sophisticated internet research (i.e. the Google), I was able to confirm my hypothesis that the NUMBER ONE New Year’s resolution each year is to “get fitter.” I also learned that only about 8% of Americans actually achieve this goal.

My knowledge about the state of fitness within the fire service makes me think that we are no different and the statistics posted on NFPA.org really speak for themselves:

Firefighter Death or Injury by Cause: Overexertion/Stress/Medical
2010: 54%
2011: 52%
2012: 48%
2013: 33%
2014: 58%
2015: 59%

Again, I am hypothesizing here, but really, are we any different?? As a whole, we sure do act like it. Just do a quick internet search for “Firefighter T-Shirts.” A number of “we are different” slogans will pop up. I could list them, but why when you all know them by heart, regardless if you actually wear them or not. But are we “really different,” or are we just like everyone else out there?? Physically, for sure; but mentally, maybe not so much. As with any Member of Service, we choose to do a very dangerous job by risking our lives for others, but at what cost??

The cost has to do with those numbers listed above. Just look at the cause provided: Overexertion/Stress/Medical. Those causes speak to the type of people we are. We work hard; i.e. overexertion. We see and do things that are beyond most people's grasp; i.e. stress. This job taxes us, our bodies and more importantly, our hearts; i.e. medical. So why aren’t we taking better care of ourselves?! I wish I knew the answer but I don’t, and I honestly don’t believe anyone really does.

So why not make that change now?? A new year and a new you should start TODAY. Before you even begin, let me tell you this much. It won’t be easy. Actually, it’s going to suck…a lot; especially during the first 30 days. But again, just look at those percentages listed above. If we all just embraced the “suck,” dug in deep and pushed through, imagine the fire service we could create! Imagine how much better you’d be; for yourself, for your family and for the fire service as a whole.

Another thing I wish I could do is provide you with a way to make this happen for yourself. But here’s the thing…there’s no manual. There’s no one book, one DVD, one gym, one diet or one style that will work for everyone. Of course loads of people will disagree with me, mostly because they might have a product, a theory or a style that they claim will change you forever, and it just may! But I can’t find that for you. That one goes back to the resolution theory. You have to commit to a positive change. You have to start, and start NOW.

Take a few moments while you’re at the station and look around. You’re not alone there. Your brothers and sisters all put their bunker gear on one leg at a time, and no matter where they are with their own fitness journey, they are there to help you.

Another positive about the fire service is that we are all about embracing the “suck” together. The level at which a fire crew works together to achieve a common goal is simply unbelievable to most. So, why not make this resolution together? Why not agree, as a crew, that you’re going to spend time together working on yourselves, both physically and mentally. Together, we can do anything. Alone, we are just that…alone.

Remember that one New Year’s resolution I mentioned earlier, that I actually kept? It was to always return my shopping cart to the cart rack. It seems so trivial, I know, to just push it back to where it belongs. Try it though! You just may be surprised what you learn about yourself and others.

Happy New Year!

avatar image
Robert “Pip” PiparoColumnist

No information from the author.