Volunteer firefighters face the same daily suituations in fire attack, as the full time firefighters.
My question is "Why are we not in shape for the job we are asked to preform"?
First of all I am not pointing finger's. And yes I am a overweight young captain, with a volunteer department, that will probley never be on the fire attack side of this job. My position is more incident command. But my family still worries if I am being safe and coming home in the middle of the night.

I have found myself at the gym more durning the week. I have been walking and jogging more. I feel strong !!
But am I strong enough to pull myself or even my fellow brother's or sister's from the flames? I do beleive the answere is YES.

Are you strong enough to preform the task at hand??

Or are you a heart attack, just waiting to happen?? Firefighting is fast, strength, dangerous, demanding job.

So please help on this topic, give me some ideas, how do I modivate my volunteer department of men and women that don't have the extra time to workout? Our lives and the lives of others depend on them!

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Are you strong enough to preform the task at hand??

Or are you a heart attack, just waiting to happen??


I think you're asking two different questions here. I haven't done PT in the last month, but I'm still strong enough for daily activties.

The second part is more a function of lifestyle than anything else.
Volunteer departments aren't the only ones who have to deal with members being unhealthy and out of shape. Our department tried to put physical fitness training on the weekly training schedule about two years ago. You would think they asked the brothers and sisters to give up a month's pay. The complaining and threats of filing greivances was unbelievable. We also have health club memberships provided free to all department members and less than half of our 200+ member department even participates.

I think that a good way to motivate members to get and stay fit is to turn it in to a competition. Fire fighters as a group are very competetive people. If you offered some sort of reward for the member that showed the most improvement.

Just a thought. Good Luck.
try setting aside a couple days a month and get everyone together for a game of football or softball. it will help keep everyone active and build a stronger bond of brotherhood.

talk to a nearby gym and see about getting a discount membership for your members so that they may be a little more motivated to workout.

buy discount/used workout equipment and keep it at the station so it is available to your members.


be a leader and show the others that health and fitness matter in this field. make sure they know that people's lives are at stake. not only theirs but their fellow brothers/sisters and the patients.

but remember that in the end it's their decision and they have to be self-motivated to make the changes.

good luck. stay low. stay safe.
I agree with Fireforever, we set aside on day a month for game day challenges, since we have started this our Co. have become tighter unit, plus it get out aggression that is built up with the guys.
complacency thats the problem any where, paid or vol. and its har to change that state of mind.....try showing them the facts of what can happen pick up games are great way to get started and maybe get some more intrest in keeping in shap
NO WE ARE ALL JUST A BUNCH OF FAT, TOOTHLESS , UNEDUCATED SLOBS. Thats what we volunteers are best at.
I understand your dilemma. We had the same problem, what with us all having full time jobs (yes more than 1 sometimes) and most of my members have children (I have 4-legged kids) - we had little time and little motivation for workouts.

We got a Bowflex and once the members saw me working out for about 1/2 hour every shift, jamming to the music in the bay, they got interested and wanted to know how to use the machine. I gladly showed them and now they try to compete with me, which is great. It gets them motivated enough to use the equipment and exercise! Mind you, I'm only 5' tall and not fat and my members are ALL quite a bit bigger than I, so the competition is hysterical!

Another thing we do is in-house drills in the bay which get them moving around, gets the blood pumping and it only takes about 1/2 hour to an hour for a drill. It's fun (we make it fun), informative and we are exercising.

Good luck! Lead by example - in due time, it will work. I'm living proof of that!
My Department is a combination paid/volunteer and we are req to take the pat test every year and pass, and for those who do above avrage they are given a t-shirt that say's fit firefighter on it and a pin that they are allowed to wear on there uniform. I was one of those volunteers that was out of shape and for the last year or so have been eating better and working out and this year when I took my pat test I was able to get fit firefighter.
Hey! Captain
Your last line seems to say it all, your life depends on you being fit. Whether or not you are a firefighter or not be fit should be the goal of all americans. I am a 22 year veteran and 2 years when I got my 20 year plaque and my picture taken with the Chief I looked at the picture and was horrified. It was then and there that I knew that I had to do something to correct this horrible site. I got on a scale and found out that I was nearly 300 pounds and at 5'4" that is an extremely bad condition to be in. I realized was it was so hard for me to keep up with those around me. I went to the doctor and said I need to correct this problem and I did I lost 135 pounds via Gastric Bypass Surgery it was the only that I could stay accountable. Yes I tired Weight Watchers and all those other weightloss products out there on the market and they did not work for me. Any way I can now move much better and my best for midnight fire drills verses that of one the kids half my age's worse time is only 11 seconds apart. So I feel pretty good. I have been working out 4 times a week since May of this year boxing, kickboxing and doing mixed martial arts and I feel great. so for four hours a week my gym time and my time for me because only I make this work and if I done I will surely fail. So I dont and I wont because I love me and I love fighting fires and I love belonging to such a great organization. Stay safe.
I don't believe you are are part of the Brotherhood of F.F. s or any other organization just a disappointment at best for making a comment as that
Hello, Captain!

In our department there is a challenge going on right now where the willing participants have bet $100 to a pot. The participants underwent a test for fitness (it involved a pinch test and some other physical measurements) and then the weight loss started. An uninvolved member took the results of the testing and coupled up the participants so that two fit, active people didn't get coupled together. The final test is six months after the first one and the winning couple (the ones who have changed their measurements to the better the best) gets the pot. I think it is standing at $1600 but don't quote me on that. The only other way to motivate a volunteer is to offer him beer, and since that is kinda counter-productive, the money is the slimmest way!
I believe Firefighting is a lifestyle choice. It's a team sport, you have to be in shape to play. Just my 2 cents.

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