Albany Firefighters are getting more fit - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany Firefighters are getting more fit

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - When they're responding to a call, Albany Firefirefighters have a heavy burden on their shoulders...literally.

"Somewhere between 60 and 70 pounds of gear is what he's wearing each time he goes out on a call," according to Ron Rowe, the Assistant Fire Chief of the Albany Fire Department.

And if a firefighter is not in peak condition, the results can be devastating.

"More than 100 firefighters die every year in the line of duty. Most of those are from heart attacks or some other kind of stress related injury," Rowe said.

So, to help firefighters keep their fitness up, and to try to keep tragic deaths down, the Department of Homeland Security is giving grants to local fire departments to start fitness programs. And Albany received some of that money.

"We received a total, with the matching total from the city and the Homeland Security of $294,000," Rowe said.

The city contributed 20 per cent of the money with Homeland Security giving the other 80 per cent. The money will go to buy fitness equipment for all eleven of the stations that the city maintains.

For Albany Fire Fighters, getting the grant means being able to maintain their fitness. And to help them with that goal, they've partnered with one of the local hospitals.

That hospital is Phoebe Putney. They bring their expertise to the table in terms of fitness and diet.

Darrell Sabbs, the Community Benefits Coordinator for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital said, "as the experts in the field we can say 'OK, if you want to go to that level in terms of your goal and ambition; then what we need to do is to follow this particular kind of design'".

For the hospital, it was a partnership formed out of respect.

"We think it is so important, as a health system, to do all that we can to help protect and preserve and prevent in terms of health assistance to these guys and gals," said Sabbs.

For the fire fighters, maintaining fitness is a help to the taxpayers as well.

"We're trying to reduce workman comp claims, we're trying to reduce health care costs," said Assistant Chief Rowe.

So in the future, when these firefighters respond to a call, you can be sure that they'll be as healthy as they are well trained.

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