Speed is the name of the game when fire trucks and ambulances are dispatched to a call. Fueled By Fire, a new race coming to Newton on Sept. 8, will give the public a chance to run side by side with first responders.
Training Division Chief Phillip Beebe said there are several reasons that the Newton Fire/EMS Peer Fitness Team developed the event, with community interaction being one primary goal.
"We don't want the first time we shake hands with someone to be when their house is burning or a loved one is hurt," Beebe said.
Another focus is giving the department's employees opportunities for healthy activity, as physical fitness is essential to their work. The Newton Fire/EMS Peer Fitness Team is made of up five trainers, who work to find ways to reduce the risk of staff injury or illness.
"The city of Newton, we have a wellness program and we're always talking about ways to keep people healthy," Beebe said.
Fueled By Fire will include a two-mile and nine-mile course — the latter being a distance that was chosen to challenge runners training for longer races.
"That training at some point gets really monotonous," Beebe said. "...It can be tough to get motivated to do that."
Fueled By Fire will take place five weeks before the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, at which people can qualify to run the Boston Marathon. The race in Newton can give runners something to train for and participate in without succumbing to the monotony of running independently.
"People that are training for that Wichita marathon or half marathon have something to help them punch through that," Beebe said.
Proceeds from Fueled By Fire will benefit the Community Chaplain Response Team.
"(The runners) are really supporting a great organization of folks who are volunteering their time to help this community out," Beebe said.
The CCRT provides support to first responders dealing with emergency situations.
"They feed and water us when we have a larger incident," Beebe said. "They bring food and drinks and extra shelter to feed the first responders."
Beebe noted the CCRT often go with first responders to cardiac arrest calls so they can comfort the family.
Not only does the CCRT provide short-term aid, it also works to assist people affected by disasters.
"That's their goal, that when someone's burned out of their home or something catastrophic happens, there's a faith-based resource that can help," Beebe said.
Knowing someone is there to help a family pick up the pieces after a fire is out is meaningful and another reason why Fueled By Fire will be held.
"The people that are paying for the registration to the race are putting money into the pockets of those who get burned out of their home," Beebe said.
Fueled By Fire will begin at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 8 at Athletic Park in Newton. Registration for the two-mile run is $21 and registration for the nine-mile run is $26.50. Runners will get a free T-shirt.
"I think it's a good time to enjoy some time with family and community," Beebe said. "It's for your own personal fitness benefit."
In preparation for the event, the public is invited to join the Fueled by Fire running team at 7:30 a.m. July 14 at the concrete shelter north of the tennis courts in Athletic Park. There will be a three-mile easy run for the nine-mile participants and a short walk/jog for the two-mile participants.
"My hope is people will meet up with people they don't know at the same fitness levels," Beebe said. "Maybe they'll walk together and jog together and build some friendships through healthy activity."
For more information about Fueled by Fire, visit https://www.fueledbyfirenewton.net.