National Firefighter Health Week Wrap-Up

National Firefighter Health Week was held from August 14-20, and first responders across the country took this opportunity to focus on their overall wellness and take the steps to improve their health. Health Week 2011 may be over, but it is important to continue to focus on your health throughout the year. Not only does exercising and establishing healthy lifestyle behaviors benefit you, it also benefits your department and the community you serve.

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) holds National Firefighter Health Week each August to educate the fire and emergency services community and the public about a variety of health issues that affect first responders. This year, the theme focused on the steps first responders and departments need to take to get and stay healthy, including identifying the health risks, creating support systems, making a plan, taking action, and living a healthy life in the long-term. The NVFC provided tips and resources to motivate first responders to establish healthy habits and decrease the risk of heart disease and other health concerns.

The NVFC’s activities throughout the week included the following:

  • The NVFC held two webinars on obesity in the fire service and choosing the correct PPE to avoid heat stress. Missed them during Health Week? They are now available online at
  • The NVFC partnered with Six Flags to offer a discount to first responders at five Six Flags theme parks during Health Week.
  • The NVFC sent daily e-blasts that included tips to get and stay healthy.
  • The NVFC released new fitness and nutrition videos. The videos feature Firehouse Chef Joe Bonanno providing healthy cooking demonstrations and tips for a balanced meal as well as personal trainer Jimmy Mey providing firefighter exercise demonstrations. Click here to view the videos.
  • The National Firefighter Health Week Resource Center at provided information, tools and resources, activity ideas, and promotional materials for first responders and departments to make the most out of the week.

Across the country many firefighters, EMTs, and their supporters participated in events to support health awareness during National Firefighter Health Week. For instance, Calvert County (MD) Volunteer Fire Fire-Rescue-EMS planned a county-wide softball tournament in conjunction as part of their National Firefighter Health Week activities.

The department also realizes the importance of continuing their health and wellness efforts throughout the year. As Calvert County Recruitment and Retention Specialist Kim Jones stated in article on “Because of their significant responsibilities as first responders, it is especially important for our hometown heroes to focus on their health and wellness and do what they can to keep their hearts and bodies strong.”

It is important for you and your department to keep up the progress you made during Health Week to stay healthy throughout the year. You can find health tips, department activities, and more on the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program web site. View the webinars and revisit the National Firefighter Health Week Resource Center for any information you might have missed. Establish a department-wide health and wellness program and support system to increase you and your department’s motivation. If you are not currently signed up to receive the Heart-Healthy Firefighter E-news, the Program’s monthly e-newsletter, click here to sign up.

Did your department participate in National Firefighter Health Week? If you have success stories about you or your department’s experience during Health Week, please share your story with the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program. Let us know what you accomplished and your plans to continue on the journey to keep yourselves healthy and active throughout the year. Remember this year’s Health Week theme is true all year long: "When it comes to your health, you're always on duty.”

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