From July, all Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service operational personnel will have to undertake an annual fitness test to ensure they are in top shape to keep the country safe.

As he put Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith through a test run of the new system, senior fitness advisor, Jim Blatcher, explained the reasons why WFRS were putting the new regime in place.

"We are using the Chester Step Test and Chester Treadmill Test, and this testing is interesting as it very much focuses on the cardio fitness, rather than pure strength, so while someone with bulging muscles might appear to be fit, they might be surprised with how they get on in the test," he said.

Maintaining an appropriate level of physical fitness is paramount in ensuring that fire fighters are able to fulfil their roles safely and effectively, due to the significant physiological strain placed upon their bodies.

Occupational Health Advisor Jennifer Cox affirmed Jim Blatcher's belief in the importance of regular exercise: "Low levels of physical activity and fitness are known risk factors for coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer."

Having already trained 33 Physical Training Instructors across the country in order to help prepare personnel for the fitness test, their aims for the upcoming months are clear; providing a means of measuring, improving and maintaining personal fitness levels while promoting and supporting a healthy lifestyle.

Cllr Richard Hobbs, Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, believes this new annual fitness test - a separate assessment to the National Fire Fighter Selection Tests - will have a positive effect on the force: "Fire fighters should be ambassadors for fitness and healthy lifestyles. I'm extremely pleased to see this new annual testing introduced within the service."

Posted 27/06/12 by Matilda Blackwell