IAFF LocalMetropolitan Dade County Association of Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 1403
DepartmentMiami-Dade Fire Rescue Department
Members2,600 All Career
Denise Paganacci
[email protected]

Brandy Paternoster
[email protected]


The preliminary work on the wellness center concept began in 2001 as key personnel from Metro-Dade County Fire and Rescue (MDFR), Metro-Dade Local 1403 and the Metro-Dade Fire Fighter’s Health Project participated on Task Force and Technical subcommittees of the Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness Fitness Initiative. The charge of these committees was to devise a comprehensive wellness and fitness program that could be implemented, in a cost-effective fashion, within fire-rescue departments of various sizes and diverse financial means. After great effort, these various committees devised a program that is 1) cost effective, 2) will prevent disease and disability and 3) will improve employee morale.

The MDFR Wellness Center began operations in 2003 under the auspice of the Local 1403 to provide comprehensive health and wellness initiatives to its fire fighters.  The Center has transitioned from the sole auspice of Local 1403 to a joint partnership between the Metro-Dade Fire and Rescue Department and Local 1403.  The MDFR Wellness Center is a not-for-profit corporation governed by a board of directors comprised of three Local 1403 representatives, three MDFR representatives and the Miami-Dade County Director of GSA Risk Management.

The MDFR Wellness Center provides these broad service components: 1) Medical, by administering pre-employment physicals to all fire fighter applicants and annual physicals to incumbent fire fighters and serving as a primary care center for fire fighters and their dependents; 2) Rehabilitation serving as a Worker’s Compensation Center while providing physical therapy services; and 3) providing wellness efforts through fitness and nutritional outreach efforts.

The MDFR determined that the best approach to promote to their members the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the need to stay fit was to go out to the stations and offer assistance from the wellness coordinators.  It found promoting fitness directly to members is the best way to get their buy-in to the program.


FacilityMDFR Wellness Center
PhysicianTwo from the University of Miami
Additional StaffOne Physical Therapist from the University of Miami
Three Medical Assistants
One Exercise Physiologist
One Dietitian
Two Front Desk Staff
Four Support Staff from
Miami-Dade County
Exam FrequencyAnnual
Exam DetailsMDFR Medical Protocols


DutiesPost daily Workout of the Day
Exercise TimeOn duty if time permits
Exercise Program“Get Fit” Challenge
Crossfit seminar
Exercise Challenges
FITNESS ZONE intranet – members post monthly circuits, fitness articles, list of PFTs, upcoming fitness events, WFI
Physical Therapy program
EquipmentTreadmills, bikes, ellipticals, weights and Smith Machine at each station
NutritionRegistered Dietician;
Online wellness resource for nutrition and recipes provided to members

Assessment Protocol Worksheet

Body Fat Calculator
Circuit Poster
Fitness Tips
Fitness Newsletter
Wellness Newsletter
Healthy Back Circuit
Nautilus Equipment Budget
Peer Fitness Trainers
Sworn Personnel Fitness Policy
WFI Power Point

Incentive Programs

Get Fit Program
2010 Get Fit Fundraiser
Get Fit 2010 Tshirt
Get Fit After Party Invitation
Get Fit Flyer
Get Fit Poster 2009
2008 Get Fit Challenge
T-shirt Design
Flag Football Poster
MDPD/MDFR Challenge Poster
Obstacle Course Competition
President Fitness Challenge
Pumper Pull Winners
Stay Fit 5k T-shirt
Tunnel to Towers 5k 2009


MDFR provides a physical therapy program for their fire fighters.

Mentorship Program with Athletes Performance

Data Collection

Excel document to track fitness assessments but no database


Overview of Wellness Center/Business Plan



WFI Introduction
WFI Recruit Presentation