If you have seen any of the local (or national) media referring to the Madison Fire Department as a group of "losers"...they are correct! This past January, the Madison Fire Department, along with Firefighters Local 311, challenged its personnel with a friendly competition to promote "strength in numbers" by connecting civilian employees, command staff, and sworn (Local 311) personnel with the goal of improved health and wellness. The Fitness challenge concluded in mid April with amazing results. As a department, we lost over 1,050 pounds and, most importantly, made great strides in eating healthfully and making fitness a higher priority in our daily lives.
Personally, I'm happy to be one of these "losers." I was motivated by the healthful changes around the firehouses and lost almost 30 pounds myself. Along with losing the weight, I found that my energy levels increased and my cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides decreased.
The Fitness Challenge stretched further than just the firehouses around the city. A number of the successful "losers" of the challenge reported that their families are now eating more healthfully and exercising more regularly. I am also proud to say that other departments and state agencies have contacted us about how they can use our template to challenge their employees.
The overall mission of the MFD is to ensure the health and safety of the community. We respond in emergencies--this of course is the most evident way we help out the community--but we also strive to be good role models and lead by example toward better health, wellness, and fitness. Stay tuned for a bigger and better fitness challenge for next year.