Wrightsville Beach firefighters work out in their turnout gear in December 2019. Above: Rett Nabell
pushes a weighted sled across asphalt. Sam Proffitt uses a sledgehammer to perform repeated tire
strikes. Brooks McQueen climbs stairs with two 45-pound kettlebells. Opposite: Joey Jazwinski spots
DJ Parnell on the weight bench in the apparatus bay.
aS A FIREFIGHTER, you should think of yourself
as an athlete,” Wilmington firefighter Keith
Nelson says. “We don’t just work out to stay
in shape. We work out because someone’s life
could depend on it. It doesn’t happen a lot, it
doesn’t happen every day. But when people
call 911, they expect us to show up and be
able to handle whatever the situation is. We
absolutely have to be ready for that.”
WBM february 2020
Firefighters might achieve a modicum of notoriety
if they pose for one of those ubiquitous calendars, but
they aren’t household names. They don’t have multi-million-
dollar contracts. Their exploits aren’t televised
nationally. Fans don’t clamor for their autographs.
There are no fantasy leagues drafting firefighters and
keeping track of their statistics.
But in communities like Wrightsville Beach
and Wilmington, these athletes play a much