New Bern firefighters fighting fat -

New Bern firefighters fighting fat

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NEW BERN, N.C. - Firefighters are known for their cooking expertise and high-calorie meals, but those meals and a resistance to fitness are causing a spike in overweight and obese firefighters.

When Stewart Evans began training to be a New Bern firefighter, he was a little cocky.

"I came on the training grounds thinking i was the fittest guy here,” Evans says, ”that had the best physique."

That is until he saw firefighters like Steven Jackson.

"And i deflated real quick when i see these guys fresh out the marine corps all swollen up and i saw i had my work cut out,” says Evans.

This is the new attitude of New Bern firefighters, recognizing their profession's facing a health epidemic.

The National Volunteer Fire Council reports 73 to 88 percent of firefighters are overweight or obese, compared to 66 percent of the general public. That is why training and safety officer Jim McConnell says this fitness program is necessary.

"By providing this information to our firefighters and trying to teach them the best we can, it only makes our lifestyle better for them,” McConnell says. “Not only for them but to be able to assist the public"

With annual fitness tests, investments in weights and cross-fit training and one-on-one feedback, McConnell says the department's obesity rate's steadily going down.

And for those firefighters that don't get physically fit, it could hurt their chances for promotions.

But Evans says he's already seeing a difference in the department's culture.

"Guys that would probably do a handful of pull-ups not actually outdoing me, and i can't touch them! They're too advanced for me!" Evans says.

And now, some New Bern firefighters are receiving fitness training certification classes to better help their colleagues stay fit.

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