If you are a fire family then you know the numbers, every year, with a few exceptions due to catastrophic events such as 9/11, approximately half of the firefighter line of duty deaths (LODD) are due to cardiac events such as heart attacks. This number has been the same for well over 20 years. So the questions that begs to be asked is, what is being done about it? What is being done to combat the cause of death that is responsible for firefighters not going home to their families? Sadly, the answer is not much if anything at all.
In the fire service you hear the phrase “Brotherhood” thrown around quite a bit. Some firefighters truly live it, but most simply talk the talk when it suits them. I have been passionate about fitness since the age of 12. I have been passionate about the fire service since the age of 21. I like to think that I am one of the firefighters that walk the walk when it comes to the brotherhood. I am my brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.
That is where I and 555 Fitness comes in. I was tired of waiting for “other people” to tackle this problem. Who cares more about my brother than I do? Certainly not some executive making way too much money for doing very little to keep my brothers alive. So I decided to try and tackle the problem.
555 Fitness started as a simple Facebook page. My goal was to put out free workouts that was tailored to the job of a firefighter. Honestly, I figured it wouldn’t get more than 500 likes. I was dedicated to continuing to put out the workouts and not charge anything for them. This little Facebook page started picking up steam. Firefighters were genuinely happy that these workouts were being provided without trying to get into their pockets. Because if you know or love a firefighter, then you know they tend to be on the frugal side and one of their favorite words is “FREE”, along with beer of course!
As 555 continued to grow I had this crazy idea to start to provide free fitness equipment to fire departments across the country. I needed help to do that. That is how this organization began to grow. I brought on like minded firefighters from around the country who shared my passion for fitness and the fire service.
To date we have given out two packages of equipment to departments in Michigan and Colorado. We will be giving our third package of equipment to a station in Chicago, Illinois in March. You see all types of departments are eligible. Volunteer, combination and career departments.
The way we figure it, if we continue to provide workouts for free and supply fitness equipment to departments in need of such equipment, maybe, just maybe we can see these completely preventable causes of firefighter deaths start to drop. If we get big enough and have a large enough voice, maybe, just maybe we can shout loud enough for this issue to be pushed to the forefront and for more people and organizations to start to address it appropriately.
You see, it is going to take people that care about firefighters to accomplish this mission. Not just people that believe in the mission, but people that put that mission before anything else. Before politics, before friendships and certainly before making a buck.
This, being firefighter fitness, is not a popular subject. Firefighters love to learn about the fireground. Teach a class on interior fire attack and guys will make the class standing room only. Teach a class on vehicle extrication techniques and your class will fill up immediately. But teach a class on fitness and nutrition and you will be teaching to a small crowd. It is not popular. Here is the catch, firefighter line of duty deaths due to fireground causes are generally below 10% and usually below 5%. Over 50% are due to cardiac related topics that could be preventable with better health and wellness.
How can you help with this mission of making sure everyone goes home?
Financial Support for 555 Fitness: Very intentionally not a single person in the organization that is 555 Fitness, has been paid a dime. All of our money is for spreading the word about what we are doing and for paying for fitness equipment comes from donations and from people buying our products that we sell. The more money we raise, the more equipment we give out. We are a federally recognized 501c3.
Everything we do, we do for one reason, making sure our brothers and sisters go home after their shift. That is actually what 555 stands for. Back in the day, a bell system was used for dispatching calls. Three sets of five bells meant that an incident was over and that everyone had returned to quarters (the fire station). That is our mission, returning firefighters back to quarters, whether that is the fire station or home to their loving family.
Larry Manasco, Firefighter, Husband and Founding Partner of 555 Fitness
March #servefirst Challenge
1. Go to 555Fitness.org and look at the WOD (work out of the day). And do it! (modify to match your fitness level)
2. Encourage your crew *and* family to do it
3. Photo and post with hashtags #servefirst #firefamily #555fitness and we’ll repost our favorite pics
4. Repeat weekly in the month of March
5. Save and share this image below to let everyone know that you accepted the challenge!
(Oh, and buy a t-shirt or send some donations towards this hard working charity)