Over the course of the next few months, you may hear the media report that the Madison Fire Department is getting a little smaller. By "smaller", we are referring to the physical size of our members, not the numbers in our ranks. Recent research shows that rates of overweight and obese individuals in the fire service are higher than those found in the general public. These statistics are true not just for firefighters but for all areas of protective services. Traditionally, occupational factors place firefighters, police officers, and military personnel at high risk for weight gain, including shift work, sleep disruption, and unhealthy eating patterns in the firehouses and departments.
Last year Firefighters Local 311 created a Fitness Challenge to combat the statistics listed above. This friendly competition made a huge impact and brought lasting healthy changes to the culture around the firehouses. At the conclusion of last year's competition the MFD lost over 1,000 pounds, with many of the participants continuing to make fitness progress after the completion of the competition. Knowing that our protective service partners experience the same health challenges, this year Firefighters Local 311 reached out to include the Madison Professional Police Officers Association. The 2014 Fitness Challenge "Battle of the Badges" started this February with over 200 participants. This friendly competition promotes "strength in numbers" by connecting civilian employees, command staff, and sworn police and fire personnel with the goal of improved health and wellness. The competition aims to promote teamwork, camaraderie, and healthy habits that can help transform lives and prolong careers of Madison Police and Fire employees. Regardless of age or level of fitness, the Fitness Challenge provides special incentives to help participants achieve health and wellness goals.
As the City of Madison continues to expand we hope to continue to grow with it: but in numbers...not in size. A goal of the Madison Fire Department is to promote the health and fitness of its personnel and that of the community. The Fitness Challenge concludes in early May, and I look forward to reporting the tremendous progress of the Madison Fire Department (and to announce that we won the "Battle of the Badges")!
In good health,