I have been a volunteer firefighter and EMT for the last two years. My goal and dream is to become a career firefighter. But at this time i need to know if I'm wasting my time. I sustained a burst fracture of my L1 vertebrae when i was 18 years old and had to have my spine fused together with four bolts and braces. i still have this hardware in my back and obviously have other aches and pains from it. But I still volunteer, play several sports, run and excercise regularly, work a physical job in an oil refinery, have done the 70 flight SCOTT firefighter stairclimb in Seattle, passed every physically fitness test I have ecountered, but need to know if i don't stant a chance with my medical history. I need to know if this would end up being a disqualifying gliche for me. I'm not looking for anyone to give me any kind of encouragement to keep on trying despite the odds. I just want anyone's honest opinion on whether i actually have a shot or whether i should just cut my losses and move on. I'm getting married in two months and planning to start a family, i need to organize what i can pursue as far as a career for my families sake. I am more than willing to give up my dream to support my future family, i just don't want to give up yet if i still stand a chance. Please be honest with me and thank you,
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Thread: Should i give up???
10-31-2008, 03:01 AM #1
- Join Date
- Oct 2008
Should i give up???
11-04-2008, 07:27 AM #2
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
I am now 35 and I had been trying for a long time to become a career firefighter. I had low back surgery in 2002, not a fusion like yours but it still put my trying to get a job on the back burner. I got myself back in shape and have had no problems (knock on wood) with my back. I got my job this year as a full time firefighter, then got a part time job as an engine chaufeur. I didn't give up on my dream and neither should you. Good luck!
11-04-2008, 10:17 AM #3
- Join Date
- Apr 2006
I would think you have a shot if you were able to do all of those other things, especially the agility tests which pretty much tests most of the muscle groups and since you passed that then you should do fine. If you get hired you would go through a medical exam anyway, so its hard to say but I think you'd be ok.
11-04-2008, 10:36 AM #4
Several thoughts- As said before, you've successful in the other physical activities. And if you can do those other things with no pain, then I would not see why you cant.
Other thoughts- If you dont think that the firefighting part is for you, there still maybe be a position for you in the fire service- Prevention, Arson Investigation and Fire communications/Dispatch.
I say go with whats in your heart and do what you can as long as youre not in pain.
11-04-2008, 11:46 AM #5
Go for it!!
I'll echo what has already been said. Go for it!!!Respectfully,
Lifetime Member CSFA
IAFF Alumni Member
11-04-2008, 01:01 PM #6
- Join Date
- Dec 2007
this is my thoughts...
nobody in here can give you a straight up answer to whether you'll be DQ'd or not. every person i've ever spoke to about the hiring process with fire depts ALWAYS have different and unique experiences. for someone to tell you that they got DQ'd for a medical reason is unique to that person and does NOT apply to you. especially if its not from the same dept you are aiming for. they look at each case seperately, so for you to not apply due to other people's experiences you'd be letting yourself down. plus, just because your going thru an application process with a fire dept, dosent' mean you cant be seeking other employment as well...so id apply and go thru the steps, but also have a fall back plan.
good luck and like you said, its your dream, so don't give it up.
11-04-2008, 01:23 PM #7
- Join Date
- May 2008
- So Cal
I believe the conditions on which they DQ a candidate in medicals is based more on chronic illnesses that are in your history. I had a broken wrist that required surgery and a grade 3 AC separation along with other broken bones and I am starting my academy next month.
If you can do all those activities you listed on a regular basis, you have nothing to worry about. If you really want this, you won't give up.
11-04-2008, 03:01 PM #8
PS- NEVER give up!
I started my fire service career pursuit right after high school. I didnít have much to offer as an 18 year old kid. But no one or no body could tell me not to pursue my dream. I was focused and determined.
Twenty years later, I am promoting to an Asst. Chief/TO position. Persistence is the key.
Do anything and everything you have to due to get that badge.
11-04-2008, 05:04 PM #9
The best advice you can get, is to find the department(s) that you would like to work for.
Then do some research, ask a few questions about the medical exam, etc... The departments should give you a straight answer.
The department I work for will not allow anyone to work with spinal fusion surgery. The city will not hire you, and if you are a current member and need to get fused, the city pensions that member off.
Different departments/cities may have different medical standards. All you can do is ask.
11-04-2008, 09:38 PM #10
- Join Date
- Apr 2008
If the department uses NFPA 1582 as the medical standard you might have a problem.
Research that and anything else you can find about the medical tests. You might be able to have a specialist examine you and go over your history, and if he says you're capable of performing the duties of a firefighter, you might find yourself with a good chance of passing a FF medical exam. Personally, I would try until they told me to stop trying. If you give up, you definitely won't become a firefighter. Don't make it easy for them if this is what you want.
Last edited by SansMustache; 11-04-2008 at 09:47 PM. Reason: edited for brevity
11-05-2008, 12:46 AM #11
- Join Date
- Sep 2005
One of the guys in my recruit class broke his back in his 20's and underwent surgery (he's 32 now). He was a top performer in our academy.
Not sure the extent of his injury, or the nature of his surgery...but he has been hired by two different departments (and was also offered by Seattle Fire, which from what I've heard has some pretty strict pre-employment standards, after passing their medical exam).
I believe the state of Washington is fairly strict on medical examinations, so I imagine if he could make it here, you should stand a chance as well. That being said, I am not an expert. You can do some research regarding FF medical entrance requirements for the state of Washington on the WAC (Washington Administrative Code) website. Obviously this wouldn't apply if you live in Washington, but considering how strict things may be here, it might be a good barometer for your home state (you could research their requirements as well).
The other posters had some great suggestions on contacting individual departments regarding entrance requirements.
I've read some posts on here regarding similar (medical) topics. I'd also do some research to find (in the event of a potential disqualification) if you're eligible to get a second opinion from a qualified doctor/expert in the field. I could be totally off base, but it might be something to look into.
Did you take a medical examination to get on with your current volunteer role? That *might* be a good indicator of your chances (I can't say for sure, because entrance requirements for professional firefighters may be more strict).
Anyways, good luck. Persistence and preparation are the keys to success!
Last edited by powerhourcoug; 11-05-2008 at 12:49 AM.
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