You have in your hand or on your computer screen a booklet, “Chappy’s Weight Loss
Solution”: written for the benefit of firefighters with weight issues. This booklet was
written for three purposes: 1) to bring hope to firefighters that a solution is possible for
weight and obesity issues. 2) to encourage this vital group of workers to investigate our
website (FirefightersWeightLoss.com) and 3) to introduce Chaplain Richard S. Phelps
as a “fellow traveler” on the path toward weight and fitness health.
Chaplain Dick Phelps, the Chaplain at Indialantic Fire Rescue in Indialantic Florida since 2005, founded a non profit corporation (Supporting Fire Fighters Inc.) in 2013 to support the work that would bring relief to firefighters with weight and obesity issues. The initial idea to begin this work came to Chaplain Phelps on January 19, 2012 while driving 2 1/2 hours from home for an extended weekend in St Augustine, Florida. The vision Chappy, as he is called, received was so detailed and so dramatic that he was compelled to write it down immediately on his arrival in St. Augustine.
The initial idea on that January night was limited: to start a website that would give resource information and inspire firefighters with weight and obesity issues to make a
consistent effort to find a healthy alternative to the problem. In those early days Chappy shared his vision with several leaders in the fire service and was advised to investigate
further before proceeding. In the time since January 2012 Chappy has met with many
fire chiefs and commanding officers and union leaders in six states and the District of Columbia inquiring about the extent of the problem and seeking advice for how to proceed.
The advice that Chaplain Phelps received with every interview was that the problems of
weight and obesity in the fire service are epidemic just as they are in the rest of the
United States population. He was encouraged to consider a wider effort than a web site
and the result of all this investigation led to the formation of a non-profit corporation,
Supporting Fire Fighters Inc., the creation of firefightersweightloss.com, a Facebook
page (firefightersweightloss), this booklet “Chappy’s Weight Loss Solution”, and an “In
Station” training also titled “Chappy’s Weight Loss Solution”.
Chaplain Phelps had no idea of starting anything new at 72 years old. He had been
forced for medical reasons to retire from a full time schedule of ministry and was
had been serving for 7 years.
However, Chappy has himself been struggling with weight and obesity issues for 50 years and the vision for bringing resources and inspiration to firefighters with weight and obesity issues has become the focus of his life. He had been told that “the problem” was like “the elephant in the living room” and a problem that was very resistant to many efforts made over the history of the Fire Service.
The initial vision to establish the web site was simple. Firefighters love to surf the internet. The web site would provide for them information on the multitude of solutions that are available, regular access to an informational newsletter, opportunity to share their thoughts and to ask Chappy confidential questions. Also, other social media dedicated to these issues would be linked to the web site and offer additional support.
The idea to publish this booklet came after planning for the website was in the early stages. “Chappy’s Weight Loss Solution” would be available free online as a concise resource for firefighters dealing with weight issues and would guide them to the website for more detailed support. The booklet will also be published in an attractive paper bound format to be available for purchase through bookstores, online, at Fire Service trade shows, conferences and at training meetings in Fire Departments.
The bottom line for publishing “Chappy’s Weight Loss Solution” and establishing FireFightersWeightLoss.com is the belief that it is possible for firefighters to make progress together toward the goal of healthy weight and fitness. Chaplain Phelps personally knows how impossible it seems to reach and maintain these goals but strongly believes that these valuable workers can be encouraged to do whatever it takes to “save their own lives”