Frequently Asked Questions

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Firefighters gym:Why do Firefighters work out at public gyms?

Fighting fire is a very strenuous activity that requires fire personnel to be in top physical condition. Fire personnel are required to keep themselves in top physical shape to ensure that they are capable of operating at peak efficiency when responding to fire calls, vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, entrapments, and all other calls for service.

Department policy reads as follows: "To maintain physical fitness, employees shall work out on duty each (24-hour) shift, emergency workload permitting, for a minimum of one and one-half hours. Physical training will focus on cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility exercises. Employees may work out in station and in other training facilities approved by the Chief."

Each station is equipped with a minimum of work out equipment due to space limitations. Each fire station is staffed with four to ten personnel. In order to ensure that each employee is able to complete a 90-minute workout, employees are permitted to work out in public gyms. Employees who choose to utilize a public gym must pay for their own gym membership.

The number one focus of the Fire Department is rapid response to emergency calls. Therefore, crews are only permitted to utilize gyms in their assigned response district. While working out, the Firefighters carry radios. If a 9-1-1 call is received in the dispatch center, the crew is notified over the radio. If a 9-1-1 call is received while a crew is performing physical fitness training, they cease working out and respond immediately. Because the crew remains in district and available on the radio, response times are not impacted.

Competitive sports are not permitted given the opportunity for injury. Crews are often scheduled for hands-on training at the Fire Training Center. Strenuous fire training may be substituted for the required 90 minutes of physical fitness training.

Studies have shown that regular physical fitness training reduces on-the-job injuries due to sprains and strains, as well as serious medical emergencies, including heart attacks. Unfortunately, cardiac arrest is an all too common occurrence in fire personnel while performing strenuous fire fighting duties. Regular fitness training is therefore essential to ensure the health of employees and to reduce the cost to taxpayers associated with on-the-job injuries.

Studies have also demonstrated that regular fitness training is essential in reducing stress. While responding to emergency fire and medical calls, fire personnel are often witness to stressful events, including devastating injury and death. Therefore, fitness training is a useful tool in assisting employees in dealing with job related stress.

Fire personnel work a 48-hour shift, from 8 a.m. until 8 a.m. the following days. In total, fire personnel spend one-third of their lives on duty. As a result, excluding fitness training while on duty would work against the Department's goal of maintaining a physically and mentally fit workforce.