Firefighters fight heart disease with fire equipment

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Experts say firefighters are an at-risk group when it comes to cardiovascular diseases. Charleston firefighters are using equipment to fight fires and fight heart diseases.

In a matter of moments they can go from relaxing to suiting up and being en route to an emergency.

"There's always that possibility that you could be doing something that is the most physically demanding thing you've done in your life," engineer Todd Delamielleure said."That's one of the most important things to make sure you're ready for that moment when it comes."

The Charleston Fire Department requires firefighters to take part in at least an hour of physical fitness daily. Delamielleure helped create fitness programs in the department integrating traditional fitness equipment With other equipment that firefighters use everyday.

"Tires, ropes, things that are functional that you're using your whole body," Delamielluere said."It's been easy for us because we basically have an unlimited amount of hose that we can do stuff with and tires.

The workouts are vital as studies by the National Fire Protection Association report that 44-percent of all firefighter deaths in a ten year time span were due to sudden cardiac death.

Delamielleure's father is former NFL player and hall of famer Joe Delamielleure, the founder of Joe D Bands.

"You can do flexibility exercises with them, resistance running exercises. It's a great way to train because it can accommodate a recruit that's in great shape, a former athlete, and right next to him a guy that never worked out in his life,"Delamielleure said.

Charleston firefighters also go to local gyms in their district during their shifts. But radios, equipment and trucks are nearby in case they are called to an emergency.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reports that exposure to fire and smoke could have cardiovascular effects on firefighters, particularly carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

The organization says there is a connection between noise exposure and hypertension.

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