Fit to Serve
Fitness is a top priority for the entire Leawood Fire Department. Station 32 at 127th and Mission Road is home to three paramedics, eight firefighters and Capt. Mike Hoffine.
“I have been a firefighter for 23 years, the last 19 at the city of Leawood,” Hoffine says. “After high school, I attended JCCC and obtained my associates in fire administration. During my two years at JCCC, I was fortunate enough to be part of the Olympic weightlifting team coached by Ivan Javorick. His instruction translated very well into motivating and assisting others to set and reach goals through fitness.”
From the outside, one couldn’t begin to guess the wide variety of fitness equipment located inside the station.
“Our weight room is well-equipped and kept in top condition. It has just about all the free weights anyone could ask for,” Hoffine says. “We also have two treadmills, an elliptical, stair stepper, rower and stationary bike. Several firefighters have brought equipment such as tractor tires, logs and sleds for outdoor CrossFit workouts.”
There’s an incentive for physical fitness at the station.
“The department conducts a physical through KU MedWest once a year and offers a wellness incentive program that allows firefighters to test their physical abilities against the national average,” he says. “The city of Leawood offers incentive programs like the ‘Biggest Loser’ program which allows all department employees to participate and win time off for their efforts.”
The average firefighter averages about an hour working out each shift.
“Most firefighters exercise between one to three hours every day,” Hoffine says. “The National Fire Protection Association sets standards for the fire service. NFPA 1581 and 1582 addresses the need for physical fitness in the fire service as well as many other day-to-day safety issues. The Leawood Fire Department has adopted this standard, stating that each firefighter shall be given at least one hour per day to exercise.”
This was exciting news to Hoffine at the start of his career.
“I was in total disbelief when I was told that I would be paid to work out every day I was on shift,” he says. “At the age of 20, all I could think was, ‘this is awesome!’”
Hoffine sees diet as being just as important as exercise.
“As firefighters, we burn a lot of calories. Most of the firefighters here try to eat right on a regular basis. One rule we try to stick to is fresh is best, meaning if it comes prepackaged you probably shouldn’t be eating it,” he says.
“Almost each shift and station has at least one shift cook. My shift and station is lucky enough to have two wonderful cooks, Sean and Vinnie. We typically have shift dinners, but make our own lunches. It is hard to keep a good diet working in the fire service when we have the very nice citizens of Leawood bringing us so many wonderful treats. Thank you, by the way.”
Hoffine’s personal workout routine shows the constant dedication needed to be a firefighter.
“My typical daily routine starts at 5:45 a.m. with a 3- to 5-mile run. I am lucky enough to have a group of firefighters that work out with me,” he says. “Our afternoon workout starts at 3 p.m., work schedule permitting, and consists of a CrossFit workout of the day and straight into heavy weights. Our first shift is chest and abs, the second shift is arms, and the third is back, shoulders and legs. At least one of the shifts will have some sort of Olympic lift thrown in to build power. Most of our workouts revolve around building power and quick recovery.”
It takes a team effort to maintain an active lifestyle.
“Just as in life, firefighting takes all different types of individuals to make a good team. Some will do what is required to get by, and some will do everything they can to exceed expectations,” Hoffine says. “You learn early on that most people in the fire station are strong-willed type A personalities. All it takes is the allure of a little friendly competition to get people moving. I enjoy motivating people. It motivates me to create drive in others and to get the best out of them. Keeping your body healthy is the key to a long and productive career and hopefully a long retirement as well.”