Normal Fire Department Awarded Grant for Firefighter Wellness Program

NORMAL  –  The Normal Fire Department has been awarded a grant to help fund an annual firefighter physical fitness and wellness program for the members of the department.  

“It’s an unfortunate statistic that more firefighters are dying from medical emergencies such as overexertion, physical stress, and cardiac problems than are dying as a result of the smoke or the fire itself,” said Fire Chief Mick Humer.

Chief Humer adds, “We are no stranger to the trend here, unfortunately.  Over the span of 3 years, we experienced the loss of three of our active members, and two of those deaths were attributed directly to undiagnosed cardiac problems.  In 2016, we had a seemingly healthy member have a near-death experience from a cardiac emergency, and has since retired as a result.” 

The funds will be used to fund annual health evaluations and occupational health screenings such as lung testing, auditory testing, advanced echocardiograms, chest x-rays, and cancer screenings.   The results of these screenings remain confidential, but will allow the department to tailor fitness and wellness initiatives.  In addition, the department physical fitness program will introduce a peer-supported fitness model where firefighters will work with their crews to meet fitness goals and will also include group physical training by local physical trainers and health agencies.  Normal Firefighters Local 2442 worked with Town and Fire Administration to write the grant proposal and to develop the programs that would be implemented in the event that the grant was awarded.    

Matt Hill, President of Normal Firefighters Local 2442 says, “It’s very important for our firefighters to recognize how important their health is to themselves and the citizens that depend on us.  I’m very pleased that the Town of Normal, Fire Administration, and Local 2442 are working together to make wellness and fitness a top priority.”

“This grant will allow us to make fundamental changes in our health and wellness as a department.  It is our sincere goal that our members can live a full and active life and perform their best in an emergency,” Chief Humer added.

According to FEMA, the primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, for funding critically needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability, and support community resilience.

As the recipients of the grant, the Normal Fire Department will contribute 10% ($6,909.00) of the total award amount towards the program and the AFG Grant will cover the remaining $69,091.00.

The Normal Fire Department is one of only 12 departments in the state of Illinois to receive a Fiscal Year 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grant.     

For a full list of all awards given in FY 2017, visit https://www.fema.gov/assistance-firefighters-grants-grantee-award-year-2017

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