Training: Physical Fitness Program
The mission of the Santa Clara County Fire Department is to protect lives and property from fires,
disasters, and emergencies.
To accomplish this mission safely and efficiently, the County Fire Department has a goal of
maintaining physically fit personnel.
The physical fitness program is established for all personnel to maintain a level of fitness
in order to safely perform their assigned functions and to reduce the probability and severity
of occupational injuries and illnesses. 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.
3-22.1 Physical Fitness Committee
- 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,
- Physical Fitness Committee members will serve for two (2) years.
- The Union will submit a list of names for represented committee members.
- 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.
3-22.2 Medical Evaluations
- The medical evaluation process shall include pre-placement medical evaluations,
periodic medical evaluations, and return-to-duty medical evaluations.
- 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.
- The fire department physician shall be a licensed medical doctor qualified to
provide professional expertise in the areas of occupational safety and health as
relates to emergency services.
- The fire department physician 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.
- 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.
- All other personnel shall be re-examined every two (2) years.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
3-22.3 Individual Physical Fitness Program
- 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
- Participants will be tested, counseled, and given recommendations for maintenance and
improvement of individual performance.
- Physical fitness profiles will be completed every two (2) years.
- 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:
- Rehabilitation Phase I
Failure to pass standards required in Appendix 2 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
- 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:
- Monthly special education assignments shall be completed and submitted to the
immediate supervisor with the training diary.
- 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.
Fitness standards are listed in Appendix 2.
3-22.4 Training and Education
- A program will be designed for each individual to work towards his/her optimum level.
- Training and education for use of equipment, exercise, diet, and other related programs will be provided by the Department and/or other contract personnel.
3-2.5 Physical Fitness Program Maintenance
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Competitive sports that have a high potential for physical contact are prohibited (e.g.,
football, basketball, volleyball, etc.).
3-22.6 Follow-Up And Re-test
- Monthly individual training records shall reflect physical fitness training hours.
- All programs and records will be reviewed on an individual basis.
- 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 listed in
3-22.7 Guidelines For Worker's Compensation Coverage For Off-Duty Physical Fitness Program
- 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:
- Location of facility
- Type of program (compliance with these guidelines)
- Fitness goals
- 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.
- 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.
- Injuries must be verified by the facility supervisor. A written report will be forwarded
to the Department.
3-22.8 Goals of the Physical Fitness Program Include:
- Maintaining physically fit personnel.
- Reducing job-incurred illness, injuries, and disabilities.
- Establishing medical baseline records.
- Validating Department entry-level physical standards.
- Developing safety consciousness in a fit emergency response force.
- Promoting high morale.
3-22.8 Appendix 1 - Medical Evaluation For Periodic Surveillance
- Complete medical history.
- Occupational history with review of personal exposure records.
- Physical examination.
- Laboratory tests:
- Chemistry panel
- Blood count
- Occult blood test
- PSA for male employees over 50 (optional)
- Pap smear for female employees over 50 (optional)
- Spirometry, pulmonary function
The 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
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 evaluation is conducted by a physician other than the fire department physician, the
evaluation shall be subject to the review and approval of the fire department physician.
The face piece seal capability of each member qualified to use SCBA shall be verified by
qualitative fit testing on an annual basis and any time new types of SCBA are issued. Each
new member shall be tested before being permitted to use SCBA in a hazardous atmosphere.
Only members with a properly fitting face piece shall be permitted by the fire department
to function in a hazardous atmosphere with self-contained breathing apparatus.
- Vision screening
- Evaluation of musculoskeletal system
- Health promotion
- Required driver's license medical exams
3-22.9 Appendix 2 - Fitness Standards (Emergency Response Personnel)
- 1989 - Advisory/Counseling
- 1991 - Aerobic Fitness minimums
- 1993 - Aerobic, Strength, and Flexibility minimums
- Aerobic Fitness
- Sub-max bicycle test: 40 ml/kg VO2
- Mile and a Half Run: 12 minutes or less - Re-test only
- Treadmill (VO2 ml/kg): 40 ml/kg VO2 Entry level (base line)
- Pull-ups (palms in or out): 3
- Flexed arm hang: 45 seconds
- Push-ups: 20 in 30 seconds
- Sit-ups (crunches): 30 in 60 seconds
- Cybex leg strength/balance: Quads 110 minimum Entry level (base line)
Hamstrings 60% minimum
Balance between legs
- Hip Flex (sit & reach): 12 inch minimum
- General Measurements as appropriate for coaching
Note: Body composition (body fat) will be advisory only, but will remain as a part of the
Department testing program.
The above standards will be adopted as minimums. These standards are interpreted as minimum
fitness levels for the general population by the De Anza Physiology Laboratory. 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."