By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday it was firefighters vs. Keen girls and …the girls won.
It was all in good fun as eight members of the Glendale Fire Department and women who are work-out regulars at Keen Fitness in Montrose competed in endurance workouts including squats and medicine ball exercises.
“It’s exciting,” said Bat. Chief Tom Propst. “These are all great guys and great firefighters.”
The fun competition had a purpose – it was a fundraiser for Firefighters Quest for Burn Victims, a non-profit organization managed by firefighters and civilians.
Propst has been supporting the organization since 1996 after Glendale firefighter Bill Jensen was badly burned in a Malibu fire.
It was on Oct. 22, 1996 when battling a brush fire Jensen and three other firefighters were burned. Jensen had third-degree burns on 73% of his body.
After over 100 blood transfusions and several operations, Jensen overcame all odds and survived. He officially retired in 1998 after 29 years of service with GFD. A monument/art piece was dedicated to him in 2011 at the GFD. At that time he remembered what his battle back from death was like. He had been transferred from UCLA Medical Center to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.
Jensen worked with Firefighters Quest for Burn Survivors, sharing his uplifting story with others.
Propst volunteers throughout the year to support the organization as well with their several fundraisers. Saturday’s fundraiser combined healthy competition with physical fitness.
“We take pride on staying in shape,” said Aram Hoonanian, GFD firefighter and one of the organizers of the event.
Firefighters never know when they will be called out to deal with issues like HAZMAT emergencies, wildfires or residential fires. Each call-out requires discipline and it is essential for firefighters to be physically fit.
Hoonanian said it was not difficult to get firefighters to volunteer to spend the day competing and raising money for a good cause.
The women who competed were all from Keen Fitness. Ani Anov is a teacher at Child Educational Center in La Cañada Flintridge. Students from her class came by with their parents to cheer her on. They played in the bounce house that resembled a fire engine between cheering for their teacher and giving high fives to GFD firefighters.
“They are fascinated with firefighters,” Anov said. “On a daily basis they play being a firefighter.”
Even though GFD members lost to the Keen girls they were happy that the day raised funds and plan on a rematch next year.
For information or to donate visit
www.firefightersquest.org or contact (866) 937-8378.
Keen Fitness is located at 2662 Honolulu Ave.