Metro Detroit first responders facing health risks over lack of fitness

Only on 7: First Responders Fitness Standards

(WXYZ) - Throughout Metro Detroit, first responders face both physical and mental stresses during the course of their daily duties. Many are being encouraged to stay in shape, however we found most agencies do not require their personnel to pass a regular fitness test, due to contractual obligation between the agencies and unions.

Once recruits complete an academy, we found numerous examples of police, fire and EMS personnel who appear to be out of shape and overweight.

Sgt. Adam Borkowski of the Detroit Police Department says things turned around for him because of a fitness program launched by Chief James Craig in 2015.

"My father died of a heart attack at 46, so I have to watch myself" says Borkowski who lost 50 pounds in three months by eating better and working out daily.

Police in Warren also showed us a gym facility they use for free at their headquarters, although no annual test is given. Their officers routinely use the gym, similar to police in Detroit working in precincts with fitness centers. At the FBI, we found agents must pass an annual fitness test or face serious consequences.

Detroit Police are also awarded medals by the Chief, for demonstrating a high level of fitness and physical ability.

"It certainly adds to an officers confidence and makes them more effective to be physically fit" says Chief Craig. "Officers may work difficult hours or have poor habits, but we can turn that around and have done an amazing job helping our police force take better care of themselves."

A comparison of several cities found the following agencies do not have any required fitness tests for officers who graduated the academy, however provide resources to enhance fitness such as workout facilities:

Southfield Police, West Bloomfield Police, Clinton Township Police, Warren Police, Detroit police, Detroit Fire.

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