Local News

Wellness Program Fights Flab and Fires

Posted July 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— They lug around hoses, rescue people in need and battle fires that threaten lives. But many of our nation's firefighters are losing the fight of their life, one that threatens their own health. Fayetteville's firefighters are taking on that new fight in hopes of saving their own lives.

Everyday firefighters face the potential for a heated battle. Fighting the flames requires lots of skill and hard labor. But so does fitness training.

Lietenant Russell Anderson is happy to sweat it out. He says fitness programs are good for everyone-- young people, old people and especially, for firemen.

Chief Alan Nobles hopes the training will optimize the firefighters' performance in the heat of the battle.

"They get involved with firefighting where they have to go fight fires, do rescues, hazardous materials incidents," Nobles says. "They have to work quickly under stressful situations, so they need to be in some kind of good shape."

Aerobic exercise may be even more important than enhancing physical strength because more firefighters die from heart attacks than burns or smoke inhalation. It's one of the reasons Fayetteville's firefighters started a new battle to stay healthy.

Firefighter Don Tschida says working out is a good way for everyone to get their circulation flowing and cut down on heart attacks.

'If we're not in good health we go from zero seconds to full blast," says Lieutenant Russell Anderson. "Your heart goes the same way from sitting still to racing wide open.'

Firefighters say it's nice to know that improving their health is one battle they can win together. Fayetteville firefighters have been on this new wellness plan since October. The plan includes teaching them how to cook healthy. But it does allow them to splurge, and they are still allowed to smoke.