Heart-Healthy Program Promoted at CFSI Workshop

Friday, 01 September 2006
Dozens of firefighters gathered for a workshop titled "Promoting Health and Wellness in the Fire Service" on April 5, 2006 in Washington, DC. The workshop was part of the Congressional Fire Services Institute's (CFSI) National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner and Seminars, an annual two-day event that attracts thousands of key fire and emergency service personnel from across the country for meetings with legislators and a series of seminars addressing issues that directly relate to the safety of first responders.

"Health is a very important issue for firefighters because they are at an extremely high risk for heart disease," said Maggie Wilson, Director of the National Volunteer Fire Council's (NVFC) Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program and one of the workshop's speakers. "Almost half of all firefighter deaths each year are due to heart attacks. This number is made even more tragic by the fact that most of these deaths are preventable. Proper health, fitness and nutrition are key to reversing this staggering trend. NVFC established the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program as a proactive measure to keep America's firefighters safe and heart-healthy."

The workshop focused on the steps local fire departments can take to improve the health and safety of firefighters. Wilson was joined in a roundtable discussion by Rich Duffy of the International Association of Fire Fighters and Chief Dave Daniels of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, served as moderator. Gail Fast from L&T Health and Fitness, the company that performed cholesterol, blood pressure and body composition screenings for the first two years of the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program, also spoke to the audience about the screening results.

Dozens of firefighters and emergency services personnel attended the workshop, including many members of the NVFC Board of Directors who were in town for their annual spring meeting. The audience had the opportunity to ask the panel questions about their programs and the health of the fire service in general.

NVFC launched the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program in 2002 to reduce the number of firefighter deaths from heart attacks. This is accomplished by promoting a healthier lifestyle and by providing firefighters with fitness, nutrition, cholesterol and other pertinent information to assist them on the road to becoming heart-healthy. To learn more about the program, visit www.healthy-firefighter.org. For information on NVFC, visit www.nvfc.org.

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