AFF/IAFC Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative’s
IAFF/IAFC Peer Fitness Trainer Program
The IAFF, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the IAFF/IAFC Task Force have agreed that to successfully implement the Wellness/Fitness Initiative and the CPAT, there must be a fire fighter in each department who can take the lead. This individual must have the ability to design and implement fitness programs, to improve the wellness and fitness of his or her department and to assist with the physical training of recruits. This need for a department-level leader led to the development of the Fire Service Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT) certificate program. Certified PFTs will be essential in helping the IAFF/IAFC Task Force accomplish two of its most fundamental missions:
- improving fire fighter health, wellness, fitness, safety and performance
- improving the effectiveness of our fire fighters and every fire department in meeting the needs of the community
After careful consideration of the major personal trainer certifying agencies, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) was chosen to collaborate in the development and implementation of the PFT certificate program for fire fighters. ACE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. ACE is a standard-setting body for fitness professionals and the largest nonprofit fitness certification and education provider in the world. As the nation’s “workout watchdog,” ACE also conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends.
ACE and the IAFF developed a valid, legally defensible certificate exam that tests fitness knowledge specific to the fire fighting industry.
Harold A. Schaitberger, General President of the IAFF, says “The IAFF/IAFC/ACE peer fitness trainer certificate program will expand our current programs addressing the wellness and fitness of our members. The opportunity to work on this program with ACE is a tremendous opportunity to open the doors of the profession of fire fighting and emergency medical response to all that are physically capable of performing the job, regardless of sex or ethnicity.”
The first step in the process took place in San Diego in December 2000. Subject matter experts (SME) from each of the task force cities completed a job analysis of the peer fitness trainer position, as well as a declaration of the essential tasks that such a person must be able to competently perform. The job of a fire service peer fitness trainer was defined as follows:
The peer fitness trainer encourages safety and participation in fitness, through guidance and supervision of uniformed personnel exercise. The Peer Fitness Trainer Program supports the IAFF/IAFC Wellness-Fitness Initiative and CPAT programs through an integrated, multi-level approach by providing current wellness and fitness information that addresses the specific needs of fire fighters through individual fitness assessment, individual program design, program implementation and administration. Furthermore, Peer
Fitness Trainers may participate in community-based programs such as FireFitKids to promote fitness and interest in a fire-fighting career.
The SMEs also determined the specific performance domains, task statements, list of knowledge statements (content categories) and skills as related to the PFT project. The SMEs developed four performance domains denoting major areas of service:
- Individual Assessment
- Program Design
- Program Implementation
- Program Administration
For each performance domain, there are from three to six tasks around which the required knowledge and skill statements are defined. In addition, there are 11 content domains that articulate the sciences and disciplines that Peer Fitness Trainers rely on to perform their duties. Candidates are required to demonstrate knowledge in each of them. The 11 content domains are:
- Exercise Physiology
- Exercise Techniques
- Exercise Psychology
- Exercise Programming
- Professional Responsibilities
- Task-Specific Knowledge
- Fire Service-Specific Knowledge
The purpose of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) / International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT) certification program is to identify fire fighters who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to:
(A) design and implement fitness programs
(B) improve the wellness and fitness of their departments
(C) assist in the physical training of recruits
(D) assist the broader community in achieving wellness and fitness.
The PFT certification covers the content of the following four performance domains of critical interest and importance to PFTs:
The PFT program complies with the standards as set forth in Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (2000) by the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) and the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA).
The practices used in the development of PFT ensured content validity, a high degree of reliability and a lack of test bias. The PFT is sponsored by the IAFF/IAFC with the American Council on Exercise (“ACE”), the program administrator and certifying organization, and Wasdyke Associates LLC providing test development, validation, and scoring and reporting capability.