6. Medical & Physical Fitness

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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.


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.

Firefighter Cancer Resources:

» Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance Report
» Occupational Cancer in the Fire Service
» Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance Action Plan


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.
» Heart to Heart: Strategizing an Evidence-Based Approach to Reduce Cardiac Disease and Death in the Fire Service


Latest Initiative 6 News

  • New Partnership makes Annual Physicals a Priority To lead this effort, the First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational Illness, Injuries and Deaths, Inc. and the Safety, Health and Survival Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs announce a new partnership at FRI in Charlotte, NC.
  • New research links enlarged heart to sudden cardiac events among firefighters It’s widely acknowledged in the fire service that cardiac events account for roughly 45 percent of all firefighter line-of-duty deaths. Autopsy reports showed many of these incidents occurred in people who had underlying heart problems, and most of the research has focused on firefighters with existing coronary heart disease. But this doesn’t tell the bigger… Read more »
  • Remembering Ray Pfeifer: An Inspiration for All The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was extremely saddened to learn of Ray Pfeifer’s passing on Sunday. Ray was a friend of the Foundation and an inspiration. He was a leader and role model whose compassion for others was extraordinary. Ray Pfeifer will be deeply missed.
  • Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate: Learn How You Can Prevent Firefighter Cancer The Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance is hosting the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Symposium in Phoenix, AZ September 7-8, 2017.
  • Reps. Pascrell, Collins Unveil Legislation to Establish a National Firefighter Cancer Registry The bill would create a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with this deadly disease. The creation of this registry would enable researchers to study the relationship between firefighters’ exposure to harmful fumes and toxins and the increased risk for several major cancers. In the future, this information could also allow for better protective equipment and prevention techniques to be developed.
  • Messaging for Cardiac Health in the Fire Service: September 26-28, 2016 To help the fire service move to the next step, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is sponsoring a meeting in Baltimore on September 26-28, which will explore how to develop messages that will encourage people to change behaviors. We are inviting several of the researchers who informed Heart to Heart, representatives from fire departments who support cardiovascular disease research, and some from the fire service constituent organizations who have a galvanizing influence throughout our industry.
  • Call for Collaboration to Reduce Firefighter Cancer: NFFF Releases Report from Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance With the number of firefighters affected by occupational cancer steadily increasing, improving education, outreach and prevention measures are imperative.
  • The Silent Killer: Firefighter Cancer You’ve heard the advice from experts about preventing cancer: Put your face mask on when you’re going into a fire and keep it on during overhaul. Wash your hood and your turn-out gear after an incident. Shower when you return to the station. Do you do these things or do you keep your gear salty and give in to peer-pressure?
  • The shortest route to fewer firefighter deaths is through the heart Recently, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation hosted “Heart to Heart,” a two-day conference that brought together leading researchers in the area of firefighter health and fitness, fire service leaders, physicians and advocates to discuss strategies for helping firefighters embrace a healthier lifestyle. The goal is to lose fewer firefighters each year due to heart attacks.
  • NFFF New Goals: The Fit Firefighter…From Fiction to Reality The fact is more than half of line-of-duty deaths are a result of a cardiac incidents every year. In 2014, 57 of the 84 line-of-duty deaths were caused by heart attacks. And the number of firefighters dying each year from cancer is on the rise.