Develop and implement national medical and physical fitness standards that are equally applicable to all firefighters, based on the duties they are expected to perform.
The initial report of the first Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Summit, and subsequently the Everyone Goes Home® program, identified the need for national medical and physical fitness standards for all firefighters. Summit participants acknowledged the importance of increasing the emphasis on health, wellness and fitness within the fire service and reported that “…the most significant reductions in line-of-duty deaths are likely to be achieved through increased medical surveillance and physical fitness programs.” To demonstrate the scope of the physical fitness issue, the United States Fire Administration estimates that “737,000 firefighters serve in fire departments with no program to maintain basic health, most of them volunteers with less than 5,000 population 2006.” The 6th Initiative seeks to increase awareness of the need for medical and physical wellness programs for every firefighter.
In 2016, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation created the First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational, Illness, Injuries, and Deaths, Inc. to provide increased awareness, training, and research to ensure that first responders have the correct tools and information to build and maintain a healthy foundation to reduce injuries and fatalities related to behavioral health, cardiac, cancer prevention as well as overall improved health and wellness.
For more information on health and wellness research and resources, please visit the First Responder Center for Excellence’s website at www.firstrespondercenter.org
Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance
In January of 2015, the NFFF coordinated a strategy meeting to discuss the state of the science regarding occupational cancer in the fire service. All the fire service organizations attended the problem and more importantly to develop a strategy to address occupational cancer in the fire service on several fronts. Awareness and Prevention, presumptive legislation for firefighters who contract the disease as a result of their service as firefighters and a call for more research and public recognition of line-of-duty deaths as a result of occupational cancer were discussed. A follow-up meeting with a selected steering committee was held in May, 2015 and the Steering Committee decided to call the group the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance (FSOCA). The full alliance met in October, 2015, to conduct further work on a work plan to address the cancer issue with a common voice among the fire service organizations. The Alliance has asked that the NFFF continue to serve as a facilitator for future meetings. The Alliance will continue to be guided by its members and steering committee. In 2017, the day-to-day management of the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance activities transferred to the Foundation’s affiliate organization – the First Responder Center for Excellence.
Learn more at www.firstrespondercenter.org
Heart to Heart
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) hosted a conference in Washington, D.C. in December 2015, to address cardiovascular disease in the fire service. This meeting was attended by more than 60 representatives of fire service constituency organizations, fire departments, and subject matter experts representing different fields of research associated with occupational health and cardiovascular health. Leading subject matter experts presented the current state of the science regarding heart disease-related death and disability in the fire service. These experts then worked together with fire service leaders in a consensus-building framework to identify recommendations to lessen cardiovascular events and to identify ways to transition scientific findings and best practices to the fire service with the goal of increasing adoption of best practices for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment.