A Surprise Grant Award to a Department who is doing it RIGHT

555 Fitness was started with a mission in mind. To create a cultural change from within the fire service. All to often we are inundated with studies, programs, politics, equipment created by certain groups of individuals who use their power and influence and create change from the top. All too often this change is met with extreme backlash from the rank and file, which (with help from our friend the internet) only stirs the pot and makes these folks almost famous. All while no real change is actually occurring. 

Our experience has only showed us that our very simple and direct method of creating cultural change is working. Put up free workouts, share some tips here and there and create a very non judgmental area for emergency service providers to help their brothers and sisters get in shape.  Our use of the internet has brought people together from around the world. We have helped to start this change from within in numerous departments. Not by forcing anyone to workout, not by creating 143 page documents with multiple opened ended options, but by sticking to our philosophy of “Train Hard Do Work”. 

Now with the help our partners Brute Force Training , Life Aid Beverages, Topical Biomedics (makers of Topricin Healing Cream), and Top Secret Nutrition, 555 Fitness is proud to announce we are able to provide a special grant to a fire department who is leading the way in firefighter fitness. The Roebuck Fire District in Spartanburg County, South Carolina will be the first winner of this Brute Force Training grant, and will be receiving a variety of functional fitness equipment provided by Brute Force. Please visit their site here to learn more about their products:  http://www.bruteforcetraining.com

This department is one of many that the fire service can look to and emulate. They are changing the culture and doing what is RIGHT for the members of the community, the firefighter and their families.  

Keeping in mind that what is easy isn't always right, and what is right isn't always easy, the Roebuck FD did the unthinkable. The administration set physical fitness standards, and the members held each other ACCOUNTABLE without exceptions. Below is some info about the Roebuck Fire District and how they created positive cultural change from within. Keep in mind, their policies are very simple and to the point and as you will see, this change was created from within. 

To understand why we chose Roebuck fire department as this surprise grant recipient, we would like you to read their story, in their words:

The Roebuck Fire District is a combination department covering 24 square miles of suburban Spartanburg County in S.C.  We have 13 career firefighters, and 6 volunteers (3 of which work for other FD’s).   We run approx. 600-700 calls per year with very limited medical first response, and work Automatic Aid with 5 local departments for structure fires.  Annually we respond to well over 100 reported structure fires in our primary, and auto aid areas.

 We hold annual physicals in March every year and there is where our official transformations began this year.  Unofficially, we heard that there was going to be a new Dr. coming to our contract agency that performs our physicals, and we heard that he was a “no-nonsense” kind of guy.  Honestly, we were scared of the outcome, because we all knew that changes had to be made, but we were really good at making excuses. One of the guys (that would end up on light duty) knew he was going to busted pretty hard, so he began early trying to diet and lost about 20 lbs before physicals… but that is about all the pre-gaming we had.  When March rolled around, we completed physicals, and anxiously awaited the phone calls.  The Doctor called Chief after reviewing physical info, and told him that he was not going to approve 3 of our firefighters for clearance to wear a respirator.  Our physicals are referenced to NFPA 1500, but qualifying factors for “NO CLEARANCE” are BMI over 40%, quality of Pulmonary Function Test, Stress test on bike, and blood work.  It is important to state that all 3 of ours that did not get cleared were NOT REMOVED FOR WEIGHT ONLY, but had other medical issues that were directly related to obesity.  Some of these were cholesterol problems, hypertension, pre-hypertension and kidney function issues.  The combination of weight, bmi and other health issues caused the Dr. to make his decision.  When he called Chief, he knew this was not going to be a popular decision, but told Chief that essentially, he refused to have the blood of Spartanburg County Firefighters on his hands and wasn’t going to sign off when the indications were that he shouldn’t.  (Gotta love a Doctor with some integrity!)  

The administrative staff then had a meeting and determined that PT was no longer going to be optional at our FD.  We had allowed our staff to voluntarily work out forever, and had not been successful.  After determining that continuing to do the same thing would yield the same results, we made the big change.  This did not come easy for us at all.  There was push back, and excuse making, and every trick in the book to circumvent the system by those of us who were not put on light duty, but the other 3 had no choice… They were given 90 days to make significant improvement to their overall health and then they would be re-evaluated by the physician.  We then decided as a group that we were going to do whatever it takes to support those 3 guys and get them back on the rig.   The 3 were required to meet every 2 weeks and have supervised weigh-ins.  Progress was slow at first, but evident and then all of us started weighing in and seeing results.  After the first month, daily PT was a routine, not a chore anymore.  Sure we still tried to get out of working out, but our shift mates would hold us accountable and make sure that we pushed past the moment of weakness and get through the PT.  Two members were the first to be returned to full duty after approx. 45 days of mandatory PT and the last returned to full duty clearance after 2 ½ months on light duty.  

Since then, all of our staff have seen awesome results, not just in weight loss, but overall function and job performance ability.  Collectively since March, our career staff has lost right at 200 lbs, and that number is increasing every day.  

We have gone from only being able to do 20 minutes (avg) work out each shift, to now at least an hour each shift.  Our stamina on calls is much improved, and our overall ability to perform repeatedly on calls during our shifts is drastically improved.  

We will have much more measurable overall health and wellness statistics to compare after our next physicals, but I am hoping that our department serves as an example of what can be done with the right attitude and direction from our staff, Chief and physician making the right decisions.  


Do you know of a fire department who is doing something like this?  Let us know. 


We would like to congratulate the Roebuck Fire District, not just in winning the grant, but in doing what was hard, doing what is right for their employees. We would also like to thank all of our corporate sponsors for their support of not just 555 Fitness, but the fire service as a whole.