Under Armour sponsors Baltimore firefighter gym overhaul

Under Armour is helping city firefighters stay in shape. Find out how.

Under Armour has overhauled three gyms used by city firefighters as part of a public-private effort to improve firefighters' living conditions, health and fitness.

The Baltimore City Fire Department's three most heavily used gyms -- at Thomas J. Burke Fire Station at Oldtown Mall, Steadman Station and the Fire Training Academy -- got new strength and cardiovascular training equipment, new floor mats and a paint spruce up, city officials said Friday.

The city and business community has been collaborating through the year-old Firehouse Renovation Project to improve facilities at aging firehouses.

Under Armour donated fitness equipment through its UA Freedom corporate initiative, which supports military and public safety officials, a company spokeswoman said. The sports brand plans to outfit three more fire stations with fitness equipment by the end of the year, said Stacey Ullrich, Under Armour's director of corporate giving 

The three gyms used to have a hodge-podge of older equipment, while other fire stations in the city have no formal workout space other than makeshift areas, said Fire Department Chief Niles R. Ford. 

The new equipment, by contrast, is state of the art and will be available to all 1,700 members and all cadets, Ford said. 

"We expect it to get a whole lot of use," Ford said. "It's extraordinarily important for our members. For firefighters, the job by its nature is dangerous...Our people have to be in shape."

The city's fire department is one of the busiest in the country, responding to hundreds of calls every day, yet "far too many of our firehouse gyms had fallen into disrepair after years of use," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. "It is critically important that our firefighters and EMS providers maintain a high level of morale and physical fitness."

Firefighters and EMS workers also are being given memberships to the Under Armour Performance Training Center at the sports brands's Locust Point headquarters, courtesy of operator FX Studios.

The Firehouse Renovation Project was spearheaded by Baltimore attorney Ron Shapiro and Brian Rogers, chairman of T. Rowe Price Group. The project also has sponsored upgrades to 18 firehouse kitchens.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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