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16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives

6. Medical & Physical Fitness

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.

Inside Firefighter Life Safety Initiative 6

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.

In 2016, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation created the First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational, Illness, Injuries, and Deaths, Inc. to provide increased awareness, training, and research to ensure that first responders have the correct tools and information to build and maintain a healthy foundation to reduce injuries and fatalities related to behavioral health, cardiac, cancer prevention as well as overall improved health and wellness.

Find research and resources on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness, physicals, cancer, and cardiac at

The FRCE is dedicated to protecting the lives and livelihoods of first responders, nationwide. Our education and research initiatives constantly shed new light on challenges to the health, safety and well-being of firefighters, EMS personnel and other first responders. It’s all with the goal of reducing line-of-duty injuries and deaths as well as occupational illnesses.

In January 2015, as a follow-up to TAMPA2, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation invited major fire service organizations and occupational cancer-specific researchers to attend the Occupational Cancer in the Fire Service Strategy Meeting in Washington, D.C. The goals of the meeting were to review what was known related to firefighter cancers, develop a coordinated effort to reduce exposures, illnesses, and deaths related to cancer; and provide support for those affected by cancer. Through presentations, breakout group discussions and a goal of consensus, the group developed 12 recommendations to target their efforts. Since that time, the group continues to meet and develop new initiatives to help maximize resources related to cancer prevention.

Heart to Heart

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 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.

Learn more about the Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives

1. Cultural Change

Define and advocate the need for a cultural change within the fire service relating to safety; incorporating leadership, management, supervision, accountability and personal responsibility.

4. Empowerment

All firefighters must be empowered to stop unsafe practices.

5. Training & Certification

Develop and implement national standards for training, qualifications, and certification (including regular recertification) that are equally applicable to all firefighters based on the duties they are expected to perform.

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.