11/12/10 154 W - + 8 - 6 The Liabilities of Adding Exercise Equipment

Caught this story from on firehouse.com, by way of the Journal-Register in Medina, N.Y. The village fire department is receiving a federal grant. They've received them in the past, and they've used them to purchase radios, PPE, and apparatus. This year, they've targeted $70,000 of the awarded funds to purchase physical fitness equipment. That's raised red flags with village officials, who see a liability of having exercise equipment on village property. If someone is working out, there's a worker's compensation liability as well as one that requires the village to pay the difference in lost salary. They cite an amount of $1 million over 30 years that they could also have to pay, if someone were injured. What's your experience with similar situations? What's the other side of the equation look like, the benefits and cost savings from implementing fitness programs and using exercise equipment? Submitted for your discussion.

Well, had they considered that someone could get hurt in some fashion responding to some type of call? That in itself is a worker’s comp liability, so by their logic maybe they shouldn’t have a fire department. They obviously have budget concerns but there will always be worker’s comp liability when people are on the clock regardless of what they are doing. Do they consider repetitive motion injuries or carpel tunnel syndrome be some possible issues for them? I think they are being short sighted. The positives for a fitness program are very well established and not only in the fire service. I’m quite sure there are wasted funds elsewhere in the budget which could be reallocated, but maybe they are some official’s pet project…who knows.
BC - 11/12/10 - 14:10

The rationale is something like this- responding to calls is necessary and there is an ‘expectation’ that we may get hurt doing this. Just like a firefighter may get hurt actually fighting fire. But exercise equipment? That is preventable. If we don’t allow the equipment, then that risk is eliminated. I know, sounds silly, but I have heard that from ‘above’ in some places.
DJ - 11/13/10 - 08:14

Typical American thinking these days, more worried about liability than health. What about the increasing numbers of responder heart attacks and deaths in the station or soon after getting home? Physical fitness is a necessary part of the job.
charlie3 - 11/13/10 - 09:48

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