AMARILLO - Every year, nearly half of firefighter deaths are caused by overexertion.
That alarming number led an Amarillo firefighter to create a machine to help with their physical fitness and potentially save more lives.
Being a firefighter can take a constant toll on your body and that consistent exertion can sometimes be fatal.
That is why the contraption you see above was created.
It is called FireFit.
"For nine years, I've gone to the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial and thought if I could do something to stop putting so many guys on the wall, I'd like to," said Randy Johnson the creator and owner of FireFit. "It started as a doodle on a piece of paper one night while I was studying and now we have what we have now."
Johnson said he started on this self-funded project last February with some help from a fellow firefighter who works for a manufacturing company.
It then went from paper to a working prototype, to being tested at his fire station for eight weeks.
And since then the popularity has spread like wildfire.
"Right now, Randall County Fire Department has one in their number one station, the one here in Canyon, and I delivered Dalhart Fire Department's last week," said Johnson.
Although FireFit has only been with the Canyon Fire Department for two months, one firefighter says he's already seen the benefit.
"It's helped me out a lot in the aspect of being prepared. Not only for the CPAC test but being prepared for what I might come against when fighting fire or any other thing," says Clay Burkham, a firefighter in Canyon. "You know dragging a victim is very important. Some victims are very heavy, some victims are very light."
Burkham tells us this machine weighs 300 pounds, so it is quite a challenge to get it moving and keep it moving.
The CPAC test Burkham mentioned is a physical entry test to get in the fire industry as a paid firefighter, and he tells us FireFit has features that simulate the exam.
It includes a step, a hose, kettle bells, a weighted ladder, hose straps, a rubber pad and a sledgehammer.
Tomorrow morning, Johnson says he's taking the FireFit to demo for the Canyon Lake Department, and another demo unit will be headed to Vernon.
He said they are also looking for local businesses interested in purchasing a FireFit to donate to their local volunteer fire departments.
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