The Southlake Fire Department has implemented several health and wellness procedures to ensure optimal health and wellness for all members within the department to better serve Southlake.
“We’re always striving to be an innovative, progressive and forward-thinking organization and these procedures will definitely keep us on track with the City’s commitment to excellence and our goal to provide the best service possible to Southlake residents,” notes Deputy Chief Kurt Hall. “The Southlake Fire Department continues to be a leader in the fire service by ensuring our personnel are fit for duty, both mentally and physically, to serve the citizens of Southlake.”
A peer fitness training team, led by Battalion Chief Jason Wise, was created to examine the department’s existing Health and Wellness Plan and offer individualized workout programming, nutrition counseling, and other health-related recommendations to ensure Southlake firefighters are meeting the demands of the profession.
The department’s Health and Wellness Plan is very extensive and covers a myriad of things such as an infectious disease program, annual work-related injuries training, risk management training, an annual medical evaluation for all members and an optional assessment to identify any potentially life-threating blockages in the heart and lungs. The team recommended a new annual physical ability assessment that analyses each individual’s ability to perform the necessary functions of the job, and to provide in-house physical training to all employees.
“The role of firefighter/paramedic can be a very physically demanding job and ensuring that each member on our team can successfully perform their job functions to the standard of excellence that the citizens of Southlake require is a top priority for us,” notes Hall.
The physical ability test was recently completed at DPS Headquarters in early June allowing all personnel from each shift the opportunity to complete the assessment. The test consisted of seven stations, with each station representing a task that the firefighter may encounter on a typical commercial or structure fire. The stations were completed in full structure fire personal protective equipment while wearing their SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) mask and breathing from their air tank.
The firefighters moved from station to station with no rest until they had completed two full rounds of the course. “The physical ability test is very challenging, but plays a vital role in evaluating each firefighter’s efficiency of movement, competency with equipment, aerobic capacity and muscular endurance while performing standard fire ground duties,” notes Hall.
Critical information related to firefighter performance was also recorded while individuals completed the physical ability test. This information included factors such as the amount of air consumed in a given period of time, average working time while performing high-intensity work inside of a structure fire and the average amount of time to complete certain objectives on a fire scene. This information can play a pivotal role in decision making for Incident Command on the scene of an emergency.
To provide in-house physical training, Firefighters David Hill, Nic Miles and Daniel Lyons were selected to become the peer fitness trainers for the department and attended the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Tactical Strength and Conditioning Practitioner’s course this past February in Denver, CO.
After participating in the four-day training, Hill, Miles and Lyons earned their certification as Tactical Strength and Conditions Facilitators (TSAC). The course taught the principles of program design, basics of coaching exercise technique and mechanics, and how to lead a physical readiness program for tactical athletes.
The training course taught the principles of program design, basics of coaching exercise technique and mechanics, and how to lead a physical readiness program for tactical athletes. All three members of the Southlake Fire Department successfully completed the course and certification exam, earning their certification as TSAC Facilitators.
Utilizing their prior knowledge and experience in health and fitness, along with the information taught in the TSAC Practitioners course, the peer fitness trainers will be responsible for the physical readiness of all personnel. By programming workouts specifically for individuals, trainers will be able to ensure the needs of the firefighters are being met.
The Southlake Fire Department also began using the program Train Heroic to support the trainers in their mission of physical preparedness. Train Heroic allows each trainer to monitor their athlete’s workouts, create programming that will benefit the firefighter and log results to ensure steady progress is being made.
“Train Heroic is a very useful tool for us,” notes Hall. “Our firefighters can move from station to station and this keeps the information in one place for us. With each exercise programmed, a link is displayed that allows the firefighter to view how the exercise is to be performed and the correct points of performance for the movement. Special instructions may also be made to ensure each person is getting the most out of their workout. Allowing the peer fitness trainers to handle all physical fitness training in the department ensures all firefighters will receive fitness training that will directly improve their ability to perform the functions of their job while giving personnel the tools to decrease injury risk and increase longevity and effectiveness for the duration of their career.”
You can learn more about the Southlake Fire Department at www.cityofsouthlake.com/FireDepartment.