PLAINFIELD – The Plainfield Fire Protection District headquarters parking lot was full of vehicles this week from all over the country – Arizona, South Dakota, Virginia, North Carolina and more.
Firefighters met there with one common goal – to get certified in the fire service Peer Fitness Trainer program, which is designed specifically for firefighters. With that certification, they can return to their respective districts and train others.
The International Association of Firefighters and International Association of Fire Chiefs Task Force agree that to successfully implement their Wellness/Fitness Initiative, there must be a firefighter in each department who can take the lead. Plainfield currently has three certified among its four firehouses.
Two other Plainfield firefighters were training this week with the 27 people from across the U.S.
Each Friday, Plainfield focuses on fitness and nutrition in its firehouses.
“We found that in Plainfield, when we do our workouts and we incorporate an entire fire company into it, that the team-building aspect of working out together really raised the camaraderie,” said Plainfield Lt. Andy Scott, who pushed to have the weeklong training held in Plainfield after taking the class in Indiana a few years ago.
Toronto Fire Department Capt. Alex Boersma and retired New York City Fire Department Lt. Tom Grimshaw instructed the class. Boersma said he teaches five or six Peer Fitness Trainer classes a year, working with firefighters in different locations.
“It’s great seeing others share the passion we have for fitness,” Boersma said. “We’re very proud of the program we put together. People are usually very happy with it.”
The two instructors teased Scott and Plainfield leadership about their large headquarters and open workout space. They’re used to the smaller confines of firehouses in their respective cities, and often teach the class in small classrooms and workout areas.
“We need to send pictures of this place to our guy who oversees the program,” Boersma said to Scott.
A key goal of the program is to reduce occupational claims and costs while improving the quality and longevity of a firefighter’s life, Scott said.
When firefighters from different backgrounds get together at the trainings, they exchange workout tips. Some are fans of yoga, while others enjoy powerlifting or high-intensity training.
“We can all learn from each other and become better firefighters, and become more efficient at our jobs,” Scott said.
But this program is built specifically to prepare them for maneuvers they’re likely to do on the job. Thursday morning they were focused on pushups, medicine ball twists, rowing and squats.
The group is there from 8 a.m. to
5 p.m. all week, doing two to three workouts each day. Before each workout they go over a PowerPoint presentation. To wrap it up, they’ll take a test on what they learned.