Police and Fire Recruits Flunk Fitness Test

Police and fire departments across the country are having difficulty filling the ranks, because new recruits are overweight and out of shape.

Three out of four fire and emergency medical technician trainees in Massachusetts are overweight or obese, according to a recent study conducted by the Cambridge Health Alliance in conjunction with researchers at Harvard and Boston University. Some departments have been forced to lower physical fitness standards in an effort to avoid lawsuits based on discrimination.

Police and fire departments from all over the nation are noticing a similar trend. In fact, overweight and out of shape police and fire recruits are becoming all too common across the country. In Jackson, Mississippi, more than a third of otherwise qualified applicants were unable to pass the fitness exam, which includes an obstacle course, one and a half mile run, and a flexibility test.

In Lawton, Oklahoma, more than 15 percent of applicants were unable to complete and initial agility test, which includes pushups, sit-ups and running for a quarter of a mile, police chief Ronald Smith told USA Today. That hasn’t always been the case, according to Smith, who noted that it “used to be nearly 100 percent passed the agility test.”

Recruiters are worried that allowing unfit recruits to join the fire and police departments could put public safety at risk. They hope that curbing the obesity epidemic and promoting more active lifestyles for teens at school could lead to better recruiting results without lowering physical standards.

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