BLM Fire
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BLM Fire

BLM Montana/Dakotas firefighters compete in physical fitness challenge

Story by Karly DeMars, State Fire Planner; and Chris Barth, State Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist. Photos by Karly DeMars; Cody Phillips, Supervisory Range Tech (Fire); and Jessica Race, firefighter.

The Billings Veterans Fire Crew. (Photo by Cody Phillips)

Physical fitness is essential to firefighter performance, mental health, and safety. For example, fatigue has been found to be a contributing factor in many firefighter accidents. To encourage physical fitness, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) sponsors the annual BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge. The voluntary fitness challenge provides a common system by which BLM firefighters can measure current fitness, establish fitness goals, track fitness improvement, and receive recognition for their efforts.

Recently, several BLM Montana/Dakotas wildland firefighters participated in the annual BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge. The highest scoring male and female participants in Montana/Dakotas were recognized for their achievements. Both are firefighters from the North Central Montana District and work at the Zortman Fire Station. First-year seasonal firefighter, Jessica Race, was the top female participant and third-year seasonal firefighter, Kevin Henry, was the top male participant. Those participants scoring a Level 4 (300 points) were also recognized for their achievements.

Left: Kevin Henry, a third-year firefighter from North Central Montana District/Zortman Fire Station, displays his award for being the highest achieving male participant in Montana/Dakotas in the 2021 BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge. (Photo by Karly DeMars). Right:Jessica Race, a first-year firefighter from North Central Montana District/Zortman Fire Station, carries a chainsaw after completing project work this summer. Jess is the highest achieving female participant in Montana/Dakotas in the 2021 BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge. (Photo by Jessica Race)

“Firefighter fitness and well-being are the foundation to maintaining a healthy and resilient workforce to meet the demands of the job. BLM Montana/Dakotas encourages all our firefighting staff and partners to participate in high-quality training and fitness activities for the challenges they face,” said Aaron Thompson, BLM Montana/Dakotas State Fire Management Officer. “While the BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge is voluntary, Montana/Dakotas firefighters consistently participate in this annual activity, and we are proud of both Kevin and Jessica for their accomplishments.”

The BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge tests participants in four basic exercises — push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and a timed run of either 1.5 or 3.0 miles. Participants are evaluated using a point system for each exercise category. Achievement is categorized in level increments where Level 1 is the minimum and Level 5 the maximum fitness level.

Congratulations to all 2021 BLM Fire Operations Fitness Challenge participants!

For more information on BLM’s Fire Operations Fitness Challenge, visit: www.nifc.gov/about-us/our-partners/blm/training/fitness-challenge.

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BLM Fire prioritizes firefighter and public safety while protecting natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, and recreation areas.

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