The fire department's plan to cut down on injuries

SPRINGFIELD, Mo Recruits at Springfield's Fire Department are going through a tough academy right now. They're learning about firefighting strategies, techniques and safety. But, each morning Peer Fitness Trainers get the day started.

At the academy, we see the recruits doing their workout. Watching the video, you might see their deadlifts as punishment. The jumping jacks as the stuff of long ago gym classes. For the recruits, the fitness class could be the a difference maker on the job.

Peer Fitness Trainer Brian Fick of The Springfield Fire Department says, "It gets you in very good job shape."

Recruit Ryan Ursino says, "I'm exhausted..."

Patrick Ferguson of The Springfield Fire Department says, "So, each morning we have to check all the trucks and make sure everything works."

Engine 8's Patrick Ferguson can tell the recruits that the lifting does note end when they graduate from the academy.

Patrick says, "Everything's heavy in our job."

Patrick came to Springfield from the St. Louis Fire Department. Fitness training is nothing new to him. But, here, he's noticed an intense focus on form.

Patrick explains why, "If you're bending at the back or if you're coming up and you're way flexed out... it can be.. detrimental to your spinal cord."

1 hour each shift is dedicated to physical fitness.

Patrick says, "(You) build the strength so that we don't get injured during fire department duties..."

The department gets fewer hours lost to injury. And, Patrick got a couple of nice benefits too. He lost 40 pounds and feels like he has more energy.

The Springfield Fire Department certified their first two Peer Fitness Trainers in November of 2011. The department now has 14 Certified Peer Fitness Trainers and 9 assistant fitness trainers.

The department also tells us, "Now trainers also administer our annual Physical Ability Test PAT each year. This determines that a FF can meet the minimum requirements of their job description. New this year, is now we are also looking at the 7 Key Features of Movement as the staff completes the PAT. Giving performance and safety or risk feedback directly to the participant after they complete the PAT. That way they can increase performance, reduce the risk of injury, and be more aware of their movement patterns."

This story is part of our Movember series on men's health.
Men are joining the effort by letting their moustaches or beards grow.
You can join in too by doing just one thing to improve your health.
You don't have to join go to a recruit academy; you could just go on a walk each day. The Ozark Greenways has more than 70 miles of trails.