6. Medical & Physical Fitness


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

  • Send the Everyone Goes Home® Program Your SOPs We’re collecting information about SOPs on cancer reduction, violent incidents, mental health, and response policies to highlight best practices.
  • Everyone Goes Home® Program Wants Your SOPs We’re collecting information about SOPs on cancer reduction, violent incidents, mental health, and response policies to highlight best practices.
  • Strategic Vision Helps Ensure Firefighter Safety and Enhance Service To help fire departments around the nation adopt the 16 initiatives, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has created a new handbook, The Strategic Vision Guide: An Action Plan Using the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives.
  • Taking Care of Ourselves Personal accountability, situational awareness, education and strong leadership are familiar concepts in the fire service for reducing line-of-duty deaths. On the second day of the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Symposium, these same themes recurred during presentations, workshops and discussions for preventing the incidence of cancer among firefighters.
  • 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.