MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Most firefighters have to be tough and physically able to handle the work. Moss Point's fire department relaunched a program this summer to make sure the crew is in shape to battle blazes in the city.
"There has been a stigma of a public image of the fire service being a group of people that basically comes on shift, go in and sit on the couch, cook and wait for calls," Moss Point Chief Clarence Parks said.
There are no couch potatoes here in Moss Point. Instead of waiting for an alarm to ring or for a call about a fire, these men are spending their down time working out.
"We have set aside each shift, one hour a day of physical training, physical exercise," Parks said about the workout program.
The exercise routine is rigorous.
"We do track drills. We do a lot of crunches, push-ups jumping jacks, kicks, run x amount of miles. We do all types of different skills," firefighter Floyd Downs said.
To make it a little more intense, the men usually train in the heat with equipment as heavy as 50 pounds or more.
"We go in a house these fire suits increase to 100 degrees. So, it is better to be training in the environment you are going to be fighting fires in," Downs said.
The chief agrees.
"We have been averaging one structure fire per week , which is a lot really for the size city that we are in," said Parks. "We have to be prepared because we never know if someone is going to be inside of the structure. We may have to break in windows and kick in doors."
Firefighters like Shad Blevins admit this workout is a major challenge, but know the sweat, pain, and hard work could save lives.
"When you fight a house fire it is very physically demanding and it's very exhausting. The better physical condition you are in, going in to a fire situation, the longer you are going to last," Blevins said.
The fire team also participates in equipment drills. That requires each firefighter to put on all their fire gear in two minutes or less.