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My department is currently revisiting the issue of wellness and fitness as a full spectrum topic. The department consists of 116 paid personnel distributed amongst 4 stations and operates on a four platoon system. We currently have exercise rooms in all 4 stations with a minimum of 2 pieces of cardio equipment along with commercial exercise mats, weight benches, dumbbells and free weights. We also have one meber currently trained as an IAFF peer trainer who develops programs for staff.
I am interested in what other paid departments are requiring for pre-employment medical exams and annual medical exams for incumbent firefighters. If you could include any requirements for fitness testing that are included with this exam it would be appreciated. I would appreciate any insight regarding the types of blood tests that you would require and the required frequency of such tests ( annual, once every 5 years).

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Kendell

There is so much information out there on medical pre-screening. First I would reference the NFPA guidelines on Medical physicals. I wrote an article on this for Fire Engineering and it includes:
ENTRY MEDICAL TESTING - The NFPA maintains standards that address health issues related to firefighters: NFPA 1500, whose key elements focus on the comprehensive wellness and fitness program; NFPA 1582 outline key elements that focus on fire department medical physicals and also provide for a Health and Fitness Coordinator, Health and Safety Officer Infection Control Officer and Health and Safety Committee and NFPA 1583 key elements focus on fire department fitness programs. All of these standards are periodically updated to meeting the increasing challenges of firefighter safety with common sense, science and technology.
ENTRY PHYSICAL TESTING – I suggest CPAT. It is comprehensive and does not discriminate against your firefighter candidates. This is a pass fail, essential elements of the job testing standard. It’s been legally challenged once and passed the legal litmus test.
PEER FITNESS PROGRAMS - In order to combat these needless deaths; fire departments have created local fitness programs to address this issues formulating and promoting the Wellness Fitness Initiative Guidelines; departments are training peer fitness trainers; purchasing fitness equipment for the fire stations; encouraging fitness programs on duty; are urging our firefighter to eat better, not to smoke and evaluate their risk factors and finally participate in a medical evaluation program. You need to get two to three firefighters trained in this arena so each shift has a Peer Fitness consultant.
ANNUAL OR PERIODIC MEDICAL EVALUATIONS - Departments should encourage every firefighter over the age of 40 to get a comprehensive medical annual medical evaluation from a physician following those standards found in NFPA 1582. Engage in programs that detect those preventable and correctible conditions of hypertension; diabetes; coronary artery disease, colon cancer, prostate disease, asthma and other career and life ending conditions. Get into the gym and start a comprehensive cardiac and strength building program following the guidelines found in NFPA 1583.
I suggest that in the age range from age 20 – 30 get two medical physicals during this 10 year period. From age 30 – 40 get three medical physicals in this ten year period from age 40 – 50 get four medical physicals over this ten year period and over age 50 get annual medical physicals
FITNESS TESTING – there are gobs of tests for this and I would work with your local exercise physiologist if you have a university by you but if not, look at cardiovascular fitness and recovery time, overall strength and fitness (not superman or superwoman) and flexibility. Look on the internet for fitness testing and enlist the aid of a local physician who may also help in this arena
PHYSICIAN – I suggest that you hook up with an occupational medical physician who knows what firefighters to for a living. If there are none of those available, I suggest a good general practitioner or internist. These physicians will assist you in ongoing health issues to include immunizations, return to work policies, evaluations of injured firefighters and provide an educated resource as to long term effects of your job.
FINALLY - Eat better, quit smoking, wear your seat belt, and pay attention to yourself as you only get one life. It’s about the quality of life and not the quantity.

Be safe
Thanks for your reply Chief Murphy, I appreciate your advice. In relation to the main points of your reply our department currently employs the York Fitness Test a combination of practical and lab tests for new recruits, This test is a bonafide occupational requirement (legally tested) in Canada that is a little more demanding (I have done both tests to research the decision) than the CPAT. In regards to the medical it is less of an issue for the new hire but more concerning annual medicals for incumbent personnel. The idea of partnering with the local university kinesiology department to help flesh out the NFPA 1582 requirements for interpreting fitness for duty is probably the best step as you have suggested. We have put in place exercise rooms in all of our stations and have trained 2 personnel to the IAFC/IAFF peer fitness trainer standard so have moved some distance in this regard to preparing for this step. Once again thank you and if you have any additional advice concerning the interpretation of the fitness for duty that a doctor checks off in NFPA 1582 I would appreciate it.
regards Ken Dunham, Training Officer

John K. Murphy said:
Kendell

There is so much information out there on medical pre-screening. First I would reference the NFPA guidelines on Medical physicals. I wrote an article on this for Fire Engineering and it includes:
ENTRY MEDICAL TESTING - The NFPA maintains standards that address health issues related to firefighters: NFPA 1500, whose key elements focus on the comprehensive wellness and fitness program; NFPA 1582 outline key elements that focus on fire department medical physicals and also provide for a Health and Fitness Coordinator, Health and Safety Officer Infection Control Officer and Health and Safety Committee and NFPA 1583 key elements focus on fire department fitness programs. All of these standards are periodically updated to meeting the increasing challenges of firefighter safety with common sense, science and technology.
ENTRY PHYSICAL TESTING – I suggest CPAT. It is comprehensive and does not discriminate against your firefighter candidates. This is a pass fail, essential elements of the job testing standard. It’s been legally challenged once and passed the legal litmus test.
PEER FITNESS PROGRAMS - In order to combat these needless deaths; fire departments have created local fitness programs to address this issues formulating and promoting the Wellness Fitness Initiative Guidelines; departments are training peer fitness trainers; purchasing fitness equipment for the fire stations; encouraging fitness programs on duty; are urging our firefighter to eat better, not to smoke and evaluate their risk factors and finally participate in a medical evaluation program. You need to get two to three firefighters trained in this arena so each shift has a Peer Fitness consultant.
ANNUAL OR PERIODIC MEDICAL EVALUATIONS - Departments should encourage every firefighter over the age of 40 to get a comprehensive medical annual medical evaluation from a physician following those standards found in NFPA 1582. Engage in programs that detect those preventable and correctible conditions of hypertension; diabetes; coronary artery disease, colon cancer, prostate disease, asthma and other career and life ending conditions. Get into the gym and start a comprehensive cardiac and strength building program following the guidelines found in NFPA 1583.
I suggest that in the age range from age 20 – 30 get two medical physicals during this 10 year period. From age 30 – 40 get three medical physicals in this ten year period from age 40 – 50 get four medical physicals over this ten year period and over age 50 get annual medical physicals
FITNESS TESTING – there are gobs of tests for this and I would work with your local exercise physiologist if you have a university by you but if not, look at cardiovascular fitness and recovery time, overall strength and fitness (not superman or superwoman) and flexibility. Look on the internet for fitness testing and enlist the aid of a local physician who may also help in this arena
PHYSICIAN – I suggest that you hook up with an occupational medical physician who knows what firefighters to for a living. If there are none of those available, I suggest a good general practitioner or internist. These physicians will assist you in ongoing health issues to include immunizations, return to work policies, evaluations of injured firefighters and provide an educated resource as to long term effects of your job.
FINALLY - Eat better, quit smoking, wear your seat belt, and pay attention to yourself as you only get one life. It’s about the quality of life and not the quantity.

Be safe

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