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Shreveport Fire Department Promotes Fitness

The Shreveport Fire Department has provided its employees and members of Shreveport, LA Local 514 structured health screenings for many years.

In 2006, several Shreveport fire fighters received fitness certifications through the IAFF/IAFC/ACE Peer Fitness Training Certification Program. This program helped solidify the fire department’s commitment to wellness and fitness and prompted management to offer annual medical exams with broader screenings and fitness evaluations.

Captain Barbara Sellers, a Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT), helps coordinate fitness events for the Shreveport Fire Department. Last fall, she was asked to establish a team of fire fighters for the Dragon Boat Races, a fundraiser for the Shreveport Rotary Club. A dragon boat is a very long and narrow canoe-style human-powered boat used in the paddling sport of dragon boat racing. This race was the first competition of its kind in the area. Teams comprised of 20 paddlers, one drummer and at least two alternates compete for trophies and prizes in each division. A professional steerer is also provided for each team.

Sellers rounded up a team of 21 fire fighters, including PFTs and a diverse cross-section of athletes who all share the common goal of leading a healthy lifestyle. The team calls themselves “Team Blazing Inferno.”

“When asked to form a team of fire fighters for the boat races, I took the lead without hesitation,” Sellers says.

Participating teams raised a total of $20,000, which they donated to improve technology for schools in the Shreveport area. Assistant Chief David Dice, who is very supportive of community fundraising efforts, remarks, “The Shreveport Fire Department is always interested in participating in any event contributing to a great cause. This is a great avenue to interact with local business leaders and groups to enhance our involvement with the community and better fulfill the needs of the city. Working together as a team shows the importance and triumphs of teamwork and satisfaction and the rewards it brings.”

The Shreveport Fire Department faced some fierce competitors, including the 8th Air Force, Shreveport Mudbug Hockey Team, Caddo Sherriff’s Office and a team comprised of breast cancer survivors, to name a few.

In the end, it was the fire fighters who raised their paddles together in victory. Sellers says, “The event was so amazing and it was great watching the team push to victory. Working together in the fire service promotes a sense of team work that can’t be explained. This is what makes the fire service special, working collectively toward mutual goals.”

Another member of the team, retired fire fighter and EMS supervisor Mark Connella notes, “The majority of the guys -- when asked to be on the dragon boat team -- simply wanted to represent the fire department and support a community effort that was worthwhile and enjoyable.” he said. “We all discovered that we possessed some common traits. We are team oriented, we like to compete, and we realize the importance of good health habits. But probably the biggest factor is that we just like to take part in dynamic, fun activities when given the opportunity. We are all glad that Captain Barbara Sellers brought us together.”

Sellers is already looking forward to this fall’s race and is currently planning the Shreveport Fire Department’s return to the event. “This event for many of us will be a highlight in our career,” she says.

Sellers, who promotes wellness and fitness year-round within her department, keeps up-to-date on current information by attending conferences such as the IAFF John P. Redmond Symposium health and safety conference. She walks the talk and keeps herself in good physical condition, motivating everyone around her.

Sellers also supports the IAFF/IAFC Wellness-Fitness Initiative (WFI). “The tremendous value of the WFI and the resources provided for this program are vital components for the health and wellness of our members,” she says.

"Team Blazing Inferno"


This information is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the advice of your physician. If you have any medical concerns or issues, contact your physician.