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Training: Physical Fitness Program

Establishing a physical fitness plan for all personnel can not only maintain a certain physical fitness level, but also safely perform their assigned duties. In addition, it can also reduce the probability and severity of occupational injuries and diseases. It has not been developed to chastise, harass, or eliminate.

The physical fitness program shall be under the medical supervision of the fire department physician.

Supervisors shall be held responsible for the overseeing of all fitness workout activities. Workouts should focus on non-contact, non-competitive activities. Activities should not interfere with normal duties. This program is mandatory for all personnel who are normally assigned to emergency response activities. Personnel who do not satisfy the required levels of fitness shall not be permitted to engage in emergency activities. All other personnel are encouraged to participate in the Physical Fitness Program.

Physical Fitness Committee

  1. The Physical Fitness Committee will be comprised of the following: one (1) Chief Officer, one (1) person from each platoon — A, B, and C, one (1) person from forty (40) hour assignment, and alternates.
    1. Physical Fitness Committee members will serve for two (2) years.
    2. The Union will submit a list of names for represented committee members.
    3. The Physical Fitness Committee will recommend program guidelines, assist in administration of fitness testing, monitor department fitness trends, and review applications for off-duty fitness programs prior to approval by the Fire Chief.

Medical Evaluations

  1. The medical evaluation process shall include pre-placement medical evaluations, periodic medical evaluations, and return-to-duty medical evaluations.
  2. Medical evaluations will be performed by a doctor of the Department’s choice.
    • The fire department shall have an officially designated physician who shall be responsible for guiding, directing, and advising the members with regard to their health, fitness, and suitability for various duties.
    • The fire department physician shall provide medical guidance in the management of the occupational safety and health program.
    • They shall be a licensed medical doctor qualified to provide professional expertise in the areas of occupational safety and health as relates to emergency services.
    • They shall be readily available for consultation and to provide professional services on an urgent basis. This may be accomplished by providing access to a number of qualified physicians.
  3. Two (2) copies of the medical evaluation results will be issued: One (1) to the employee and one (1) to the Department’s physician files.The fire department shall establish and maintain a permanent health file on each individual member; the file will record the results of regular medical and fitness tests, occupational illnesses or injuries, and events that expose an individual to known or suspected hazardous materials, toxic products, or contagious diseases.Health information shall be maintained as a confidential record for each individual member, as well as for a composite data-base for the analysis of factors pertaining to the overall health and fitness of the member group.All personnel 40-years and older who engage in emergency response, and all assigned Haz Mat team members, shall be re-examined by the physician on no less than an annual basis and before being reassigned to emergency duties following debilitating illnesses or injuries. Members who have not satisfied these requirements of the examination shall not be permitted to engage in emergency operations. When these examinations are conducted by a physician other than the fire department physician, the examination report shall be subject to the review and approval of the fire department physician.
    1. All other personnel shall be re-examined every two (2) years.
    2. Medical evaluations will be performed by the Department doctor while personnel are on duty, or individuals will be compensated at the overtime rate if off duty. Referral medical exams will be performed off duty, without compensation.


  4. Individuals who are released to duty but are referred for medical follow-up should follow-up with a personal physician on their employee health plan.
  5. Upon release to duty following debilitating injuries or illnesses of any duration, personnel shall be subject to medical evaluation and fitness testing that is appropriate for assignment. Upon release to duty following leaves of absence, alternate assignments, or other qualifying situations, personnel shall be subject to medical evaluation, fitness testing, and skills evaluation appropriate for assignment, per current policy.

Individual Physical Fitness Program

  1. Emergency responders and other personnel engaged in fitness activities on Department time shall participate in fitness testing. Fitness testing will be non-competitive and designed to encourage “best effort” for establishing individual baselines and Department program effectiveness.
  2. Participants will be tested, counseled, and given recommendations for maintenance and improvement of individual performance.
  3. Physical fitness profiles will be completed every two (2) years.
  4. If, in the opinion of the individual responsible for medical monitoring, a medical problem is identified for an employee, the employee will be referred to his/her personal physician on their employee health plan.Examples of referral include:
    1. Rehabilitation Phase I
      Failure to pass standards will result in emergency responders participating in a mandatory on-duty exercise program. Time will be scheduled by the supervisor for an on-duty exercise period. A Physical Fitness Training Diary (Form #92) tracking progress toward fitness goals will be submitted monthly to the Fitness Committee. The training diary will be maintained as part of the employee’s permanent training record.
    2. Rehabilitation Phase II
      Failure to pass standards required in Appendix 2 a second time, two years later, will result in referral of emergency responders to the fire department physician. Individuals who are referred must submit a Physician’s Statement Form (Form #80) following referral. If released to full duty, an individual will return to Phase I with the following added conditions:

      1. Monthly special education assignments shall be completed and submitted to the immediate supervisor with the training diary.
      2. A meeting with the Fire Chief or his/her representative will be scheduled to discuss the requirements for present assignment and the need for possible reassignment to maintain a positive environment for the individual to attain fitness goals.

    It shall be an ongoing objective of the fire department to assist members affected by occupational injuries or illnesses in their rehabilitation and to facilitate their return to full active duty or limited duty where possible. In all cases, the fire department shall have an ultimate concern for the members’ ability to regain and maintain comfortable, healthy, and productive lives during and after their service with the fire department.

Training and Education

  1. A program will be designed for each individual to work towards his/her optimum level.
  2. Training and education for use of equipment, exercise, diet, and other related programs will be provided by the Department and/or other contract personnel.

Physical Fitness Program Maintenance

  1. Each station will be provided with exercise information and equipment; e.g., exercycles, rowing machines, weight benches, free weights, jump ropes, chin-up bar, step bench, mats, etc.
  2. Emergency response personnel will be provided an exercise period for fitness maintenance and improvement using his/her designed program. Other personnel may request a workout schedule that is acceptable to his/her immediate supervisor and that does not adversely impact workload. All workouts will be conducted at Fire Department facilities. If no on-site workout facilities exist, individuals may request — in writing to the appropriate Division Chief — to participate in a supervised program at a health club facility.
  3. Forty (40) hour employees participating in a workout program will be released between 0730-0800 Hours or 1630-1700 Hours (if workload permits) for program maintenance at the approved workout facility. It is anticipated that forty (40) hour employees will workout at least thirty (30) minutes prior to or after regular work hours — on their own time — to maintain a one (1) hour workout program.
  4. Competitive sports that have a high potential for physical contact are prohibited (e.g., football, basketball, volleyball, etc.).

Follow-Up And Re-test

  1. Monthly individual training records shall reflect physical fitness training hours.
  2. All programs and records will be reviewed on an individual basis.
  3. A re-test to be removed from Rehabilitation, Phase I or II, may be requested in writing through the Physical Fitness Review Committee. A maximum of two (2) re-tests may be scheduled annually. Re-tests shall be administered in accordance with the Fitness Standards.

Guidelines For Worker’s Compensation Coverage For Off-Duty Physical Fitness Program Include:

  1. Personnel must apply for coverage. Approval for a program will continue for a period of two years; said time period to coincide with biyearly Department medical examinations. If continued coverage is desired, personnel must reapply.Applications will include:
    1. Name
    2. Date
    3. Location of facility
    4. Type of program (compliance with these guidelines)
    5. Fitness goals
  2. Workout facilities must be licensed for business (i.e., gymnasiums, spas, clubs); no private gyms/clubs will be accepted.
    Workout areas are to be supervised by trained and/or certified instructors. All equipment must be monitored, serviced, or repaired on a regular basis.
  3. Activities must be non-contact and non-competitive (racquet sports, individual and/or team competitions will not be covered).
    Programs should focus on development of flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance.
  4. Injuries must be verified by the facility supervisor. A written report will be forwarded to the Department.

Goals of the Physical Fitness Program Include:

  1. Maintaining physically fit personnel.
  2. Reducing job-incurred illness, injuries, and disabilities.
  3. Establishing medical baseline records.
  4. Validating Department entry-level physical standards.
  5. Developing safety consciousness in a fit emergency response force.
  6. Promoting high morale.

Appendix 1 – Medical Evaluation For Periodic Surveillance

  1. Complete medical history.
  2. Occupational history with review of personal exposure records.
  3. Physical examination.
  4. Laboratory tests:
    1. Urinalysis
    2. Chemistry panel
    3. Blood count
    4. Occult blood test
    5. PSA for male employees over 50 (optional)
    6. Pap smear for female employees over 50 (optional)
  5. Spirometry, pulmonary functionThe fire department shall adopt and maintain a respiratory protection program that meets the requirements of ANSI Z88.5, Practices for Respiratory Protection for the Fire Service, and ANSI Z88.6, Standard for Respiratory Protection – Respiratory Use – Physical Qualifications for Personnel.All members using SCBA shall be medically certified by a physician on an annual basis, and shall be regularly trained, tested, and certified in the safe and proper use of this equipment. When this assessment is conducted by a physician other than the fire-fighting physician, the assessment must be reviewed and approved by the fire-fighting physician. The mask sealing ability of each member who is eligible to use the SCBA shall be verified through a qualitative fit test. A new type of SCBA is released at any time every year. Every new member should test before being approved to use SCBA in hazardous environments. The fire department only allows members wearing appropriate masks to use self-contained breathing apparatus to work in hazardous environments.
  6. Audiometry
  7. Vision screening
  8. Evaluation of musculoskeletal system
  9. Health promotion
  10. Required driver’s license medical exams

Appendix 2 – Fitness Standards (Emergency Response Personnel)

  1. Implementation:
    1. 1989 – Advisory/Counseling
    2. 1991 – Aerobic Fitness minimums
    3. 1993 – Aerobic, Strength, and Flexibility minimums
  2. Aerobic Fitness
    1. Sub-max bicycle test: 40 ml/kg VO2
    2. Mile and a Half Run: 12 minutes or less – Re-test only
    3. Treadmill (VO2 ml/kg): 40 ml/kg VO2 Entry level (base line)
  3. Strength
    1. Pull-ups (palms in or out): 3
    2. Flexed arm hang: 45 seconds
    3. Push-ups: 20 in 30 seconds
    4. Sit-ups (crunches): 30 in 60 seconds
    5. Cybex leg strength/balance: Quads 110 minimum Entry level (base line)
      Hamstrings 60% minimum
      Balance between legs
      10% maximum
  4. Flexibility:
    1. Hip Flex (sit & reach): 12 inch minimum
    2. General Measurements as appropriate for coaching

Note: Body composition (body fat) is for reference only, but will still be part of the department’s test plan.

The above standards will be adopted as minimum standards. The De Anza Physiology Laboratory interprets these standards as the minimum level of health for the general population. The rationale for adoption is that the occupation of firefighting requires physical activities that exceed those of the general population. When the National Physical Requirements (fitness standards) for firefighters are updated, the administration will meet with Local 1165 to discuss adoption of the updated standards.

“The nature of tasks which a firefighter will be called upon to perform requires an unusually high degree of physical fitness, agility, and dexterity. Firefighters experience an exceptionally high rate of service-connected injuries and deaths which are indicated by the studies revealing that firefighting is a most hazardous occupation.”


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