When you’re a firefighter, your mental and physical fitness is put to test on a daily basis. Being in peak condition is paramount to the job, and that includes fueling your body throughout the day. One man who is making a difference in his fire department is Mario Ienni. As the Health and Wellness Coordinator, he’s established a program to cause other departments to sit up and take notice, and Fitmark is helping out.
The program is a comprehensive health and wellness program that has, until now, focused on physical fitness, but not so much on nutrition. Mario told us:
Each station has its own gym and firefighters are encouraged to work out from 8:30 till 10 in the morning. But it’s purely voluntary.
Mario’s aim is to educate his team on how to eat, how to replenish their bodies during an incident, and how to aid recovery for a more sustainable future in their careers. He has even enrolled in a personal training and nutrition course and will soon become the nutritionist for the department.
Often when a firefighter is called out to a fire, they will work for three to four hours without stopping, depending on the size of the fire. Each crew member has their own set tasks – some will check the roof, and others will check the outside and back of the building, while other members address the fire on the inside. No one at that moment is thinking of rehydrating or refueling.
Mario told us:
During an incident, proper hydration and food is not necessarily a priority until well after the incident is over. Time after time, crews need to have some sustainable energy source every hour to maintain proper electrolyte balance and energy.
Mario has the solution. About every 40-45 minutes, crew members will return to the truck for fresh air bottles for their breathing apparatus. It is the ideal time to rehydrate and recharge the body. With the help of Fitmark Bags and GU Energy Labs, Mario is happy to report that he’s “put into service Incident Replenishment Packs as a crucial component of the Health and Wellness Program.” He says:
Each individual fire engine now has its own Fitmark meal management bag, complete with sustainable energy sources from GU. Each bag contains three individual packs that are dedicated to each member on the apparatus. Each of these packs include:
Electrolyte Drink Tabs
The electrolyte tabs are created primarily for hydration by replenishing the sodium lost in sweat during fire ground operations. These tablets help maintain water balance by simply adding 1 tablet to your 16 ounce water bottle.
Energy Gel Packs
Energy Gel packs contain energy-dense calories in a portable packet to help sustain energy demands during any fire ground incident. The gel packs help maximize carbohydrate absorption and utilization during strenuous activity. These gel packs also have branched-chain amino acids that may reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. One gel pack will give sustainable energy for up to 1-2 hours.
These chews are packets containing carbohydrates to keep you fueled while delaying bonking by sparing your glycogen stores. These also aid in the hydration by maintaining water balance along with the electrolyte drink tabs.
Mario and his department are taking health, meal management and sustainable energy to the next level. He intends to hold nutritional seminars every three months, as well as classes focusing on functional training for improved performance on the job. He’s a great role model for his team:
Consistency is what keeps me on schedule. My work shifts start at 7 am. I’m usually in the gym at our fire station by 4:30 am till 6:45 am. I weight train and do cardio prior to my shift. My first meal is at 7 am. During our busy days at work, getting in 6 meals every 2-3 hours can be challenging. Carrying my food in my diet and meal management bag with me everywhere helps.
What does a firefighter like Mario carry in his Fitmark bag?
I typically take 18 meals to work for the three days I’m there. The Shield is a life saver and is great for transporting my food from home to work. When I’m out in the field working emergency calls, the Shield fits perfectly in my equipment cabinet on the fire engine. I have at least 3 to 4 meals with me, kept fresh and cool.
Fitmark is proud to be a part of this health and wellness initiative and we hope that you’ll find Mario’s story as inspiring as we did.
You can read more about Mario and this Health and Wellness Program at: Fit For Duty: The Surefire Way To Fuel A Firefighter
Sport Your Lifestyle
The Fitmark Team