Challenge issued


Decatur firefighters issue planking challenge to promote healthy lifestyle

Firefighters with Decatur Fire and Rescue Department said they are always up for a challenge, but instead of fighting fires the department has a different challenge in mind.

Recently, officials in the department decided to issue a fitness challenge to Decatur residents. The challenge, issued using the department’s official social media account, is meant to bring awareness to staying physically fit, said Gary Menard with Decatur Fire and Rescue Department.

Menard said the challenge was originally issued for the Decatur Police Department, but now they are opening the competition to any and all takers.

The concept is to get a group of five people to challenge of five firefighters at the department. Individuals can come to Fire Station No. 1 located in downtown Decatur and face off head-to-head or upload a video on social media to see which group of five can accumulate the most time planking.

The message behind the challenge is getting Decatur residents physically fit, Menard said.

“The challenge kind of came about because captain [Ninetta Violante] thought it would be fun to challenge Decatur PD. However, the challenge is more based on physical fitness. People generally think the main part of our job is fighting fires, but nowadays the bulk of what we run is medical calls. A lot of it is preventable illness.”

Menard recalled one incident he witnessed at his previous department where a 30-year-old male died due to the results of a sedentary lifestyle, he said.


Firefighters received reports that the man had trouble breathing. Officials arrived to his second-story apartment and began to check his vitals. As firefighters were giving him oxygen, his heart stopped from congestive heart failure.

“Because he was so obese, we had extreme difficulty getting him down the stairs and it was nearly impossible to perform CPR while we were trying to get him down to the first level. So at only 30 years old, his health was not only life-threatening, but made it extremely difficult for us to assist him. We want to get to a point where we would never have to see a young man die in front of us from preventable disease,” Menard wrote in an email exchange with The Champion.

For more information, read an upcoming article in the Champion Newspaper

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