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Does anyone have any experience working with hearing impaired firefighters. We have had two of these people join our fire department. This is a new experience for all of us and I am not sure of the outcome. Any comments would be appreciated.

Ted R. Kolb
Past Deputy Chief

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Comment by Ted R. Kolb on March 15, 2009 at 1:53pm
Hi Tom, Thanks for the info. We have one firefighter with a Cochlear implant and can hear somewhat; he also is extremely good at reading lips and uses sign language. The second firefighter can neither hear, read lips, and he is not good at signing. I have no doubt that there is a position that they both can hold and contribute to the FD. I’m just worried that for safety sake will all members work with these people?

I am just trying to accrue any information from any volunteer departments that have traveled this road.

Again thanks for your response,
Comment by Tom Froehlich on March 14, 2009 at 9:18pm
I worked with one hearing impaired firefighter for about 15 years. He did have large hearing aids behind each ear that once and a while would bother him if they got wet but otherwise he was a valuable asset to our department. Since his job was that of a truck driver he usually and very professionally drove one of our tenders to the fire scene for our rural volunteer department. But he was also fully trained and capable of all interior fire operations. When he first joined our department we talked about how he felt and we successfully worked through it. Remember that when we remove our eyeglasses to put on an SCBA we are vision impaired and we found ways to work with that.

I suggest talking to them about how they feel and working fully with them to develop their skills as you would any other new member.

Good luck and be safe!

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