1. #1
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    Default Wanting to be a firefighter... and deaf also.

    I currently live in Provo, Utah and am basically ready for a career change.

    Some background about myself: I'm severely to profoundly deaf, wear one or two hearing aids depending on situation, but can communicate quite well with hearing people (I have appeared on some radio shows and used ham radio in the past).

    My dad has had a powerful influence on me, how powerful I didn't realize until much later when he lay in ICU recovering from a motorcycle accident and I went to visit him. I came to the thought, I can't honor him by joining the military because they don't like deaf people in the military... So why not join the ranks of the fire department? He is a retired fire department chief of a volly FD in a little town in southern IL, and he taught me some stuff, mostly without realizing it, when he gave me his EMT training book.

    What helps is that I have a deaf friend in IL who is a firefighter for a volly FD and so I'm not quite going in blindly but rather at this point doing research on joining. I can ask him questions and in fact am waiting to hear back from him.

    I know there's an application process and a physical test but am not sure if there is a mechanical aptitude test also. Also I am not sure about if they will train on-the-job (paid FD) or if I have to pre-train before I join, for the firefighter portion. I am aware that I must already have an EMT or paramedic certificate or be in the process of getting one.

    I am ready to tell them I am wiling to stick with exterior attack and MVA and medical because I know some departments are a little leery of deaf ff's doing interior rescue or attack work. But never know, I might be able to do those too depending on teamwork and technology to help out in those regards.

    Have been going to the local library trying to find info and they have not really been much help so I might be going to the big library in Salt Lake City to get that info.

    Guess that's all for now...

    Pondracer

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    Don't ever let it hold you back, there's gotta be some way you can serve. What kind of hearing aids do you use? I am mild to moderate (but can hold a conversation fine enough). I haven't worn hearing aids since elementary school, but when I did, mine were an in-ear type that weren't really noticeable or in the way. Talk to your audiologist about options and durability.

    Best of luck to you, and let us know how it goes.

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    I use Phonak Naidas, one of the top of the line digital hearing aids.

    I also have a 'streamer', called the iCom, which will work with either Bluetooth or a direct audio interface. I believe itll also work with FM listening system adapters.

    Right now, the hearing aid programming is not yet perfect, I have to go back for more tweaks to the hearing aids.

    PondRacer

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    Good luck, I see no reason that you can be a firefighter.
    Bring enough hose.

  5. #5
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    It sounds like your hearing impairment has not been able to hinder you in communicating well. That will be an important achievement to stress while you are getting hired.

    Honestly, I don't know of many paid career departments that would hire a FF with a significant loss of hearing since hearing is an important sense for your safety and the safety of others. However, it doesn't mean there isn't a department out there that would hire you.

    However, like you mentioned, your dad was on a volunteer department. Often, volunteer departments are much more willing to work around medical conditions in order to retain a dedicated and qualified volunteer. They are also much more willing to accept a volunteer to do specific jobs (exterior only, engineer, etc.).

    As for training, there are a few options. Many career depts will hire you and then train you to their required standards, all while you're getting paid (usually about 4-6 months of the academy). However, there are also many that require you to have certain certificates before you even apply. In order to get these certs, usually local community colleges offer some fire classes or an academy that will provide you the training you need. They usually meet a couple times each week and last 6-12 months. But, many volunteer depts will train their members during their regular training meetings. Drawback is that it can often take years to get the certs needed.

    Usually, the career testing process consists of some or all of the following:
    - Pre-application/Interest - sometimes will automatically disqualify people for major offenses (DUIs, felonies, certain drug use, etc.). Other times, it's just simply putting you on the interest list.
    - Written test - Most tests don't test fire tactics - although there are some that do. Usually it's basic math, algebra level, maybe, reading comprehension, some vocabulary, memory recall (you can study a couple maps or schematics for a bit and then recall where certain features are later in the test) and maybe basic mechanics such as a drawing of a series of sprockets and it asks you which way certain ones will turn.
    - Aerial/Ladder climb - some depts will have you climb a ladder or aerial just to make sure you're not afraid of heights.
    - Physical Agility test - CPAT is the most common. They usually are pass/fail. They usually test actions that would represent the job skills needed on the fire ground.
    - Oral Interview - usually determines 100% where you place on the hiring list.
    - Background Investigation - common things that cause problems: tickets, crimes, poor grades, job hopping, credit/debt, alcohol, etc.
    - Polygraph Exam - Some depts use this to verify your answers.
    - Medical Exam - Making sure you meet the medical requirements for the department and/or pension plan. This will probably be your biggest hurdle.
    - Psychological exam - making sure you are a fit for firefighting and it is a fit for you.

    Volunteer depts can vary greatly, but usually consist of an interview with some members of the dept, maybe a physical agility test and then your admission is usually voted on by the membership.

    Do your research and keep looking. Best of luck with your journey and keep us posted on any questions and your progress.

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    Was thinking about what you just said, and like if a person is in a car accident and screaming her head off you gotta be able to communicate over the screams.

    The above situation is exactly what happened to me one time. My wife and i were riding in the back seat of someone else's car, and he drove across traffic but stopped a little too soon (we suspect he had been doing drugs that day, but no proof), and we got t-boned with the oncoming van hitting my wife's side. She didn't really have that much time to react, and therefore sustained injuries to her left arm; I was fine, just shaken up. But that didnt stop me, I IMMEDIATELY turned to her and administered 1st aid, told her not to move her head and told her to keep her arm still, as I was taught to do in first aid class.

    I was able to communicate to the EMTs that arrived on scene, over her screams, and they told me to get in the back with my wife since I was her husband (obviously) and I was the only one who was able to communicate directly to her in sign language.

    Now, I know that a situation like that and a working fire is going to be completely different animals, and as such, do not know exactly what to expect in terms of how to communicate at a working fire. I read at another firefighter forum that the ff's sign a lot more than they realize at a fireground because it is so freakin noisy, and the signs they use are intuitive ones (grabbing overhead and bringing fist down repeatedly = climb the ladder, cup to mouth motion = i need a drink, etc). My main concern is being able to HEAR the radio in noisy situations, but I think with direct connects to the hearing aids it may work. Just need to work closely with the audiologist and tell him that my requirements for the hearing aids have just changed, and they need to be mission critical, and see what i can do in order to interface them to the radio systems.

    PondRacer

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    Right there, you have one of the keys to success in the oral board. Capt Bob calls that a "nugget." You answer a question on the oral board with a personal, memorable story. That's the type of thing that will set you apart from the competition.

    Do your research for the departments that will work with your hearing situation. You might even look into a local ADA, if you have a school specializing in deaf students or if there's some sort of community or state network for deaf people. They might have work from someone that has already gone through this, or even some networking that will help.

    If the dept uses the NFPA Medical Standards, that resource is NFPA 1582. Here's a link:
    http://www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/Ab...ookie%5Ftest=1
    If you sign up for free, you can view it online. Review the sections concerning hearing and review it with your doctor. It will give you the NFPA standard, which is widely used, but not doctrine by any means. Also, I've heard rumors about a revision due out this year that addresses hearing aids in more detail.

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    Thumbs up

    Good luck, and I wish you the best in your endeavor.

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    My concern is the FD taking NFPA 1582 as religion, because it seems to me that they that wrote the standard may not be aware that there are deaf ff's who fulfill their duties just fine. OR... left it as is because they did not know how to address the subject at the time.

    I look forward to seeing what the revision says about that subject.

    In the meantime, I have to go get EMT certfications and then be in process of getting paramedic, so that they will see that I am meeting one of their requirements.

    Where do I get a bluetooth-capable stethescope, I wonder?

    PondRacer

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    It might not be what you want to hear, but if you aren't able to be a firefighter there are many other things you can do in the fire service. Some of the options are code enforcement, fire alarm installation/maintenance, sprinkler installation, fire equipment sales, apparatus sales/maintenance. Fire investigation is always an option, only problem is sometimes the FI are recruited from the line personnel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PondRacer View Post

    Where do I get a bluetooth-capable stethescope, I wonder?

    PondRacer
    here you go:

    http://www.themedicalsupplydepot.com...rce=GoogleBase

    This version is the middle-of-the-road model. I've heard this model works really well, from a doctor I know that uses it. There's one other Littmann model cheaper at around 300 bucks and another Littmann closer to 600 dollars.

    Even though there are some cheaper, knock off brands, I'd suggest paying more and going for the Littmann. Littmann stethoscopes in general are known as the best around. (No, I don't sell and or work for them).

    More on topic, I wish you luck! And to echo what Nameless said, even if you can't be a full firefighter, there are HUNDREDS of other ways to work in the fire service!

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    You are correct that many departments seem to blindly take NFPA Standards as canon. However, good news is that with the economy the way it has been over the last few years, depts have been taking a more realistic look at the NFPA and adapting some of their suggestions. Especially in relations to vehicles and equipment, the NFPA has very expensive beliefs. There are some depts out there that could care less about the NFPA since it is virtually impossible for them to follow the NFPA's Standards.

    Another idea I just got from your most recent post... regardless of how your situation turns out, you should consider looking into a few side projects:
    - getting with activist/equal accessibility type groups and educate the entities that make up these standards and push for reform. It will take a lot of work and will be a long journey, but you will create a path for those in the future.
    - look in designing equipment (like a bluetooth stethoscope) for people in the public safety/medical arena. There has to be stuff out there already, but I bet there are numerous unaddressed issues.

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    I was looking at those stethescopes about a year ago, and forgot the name of them. Thanks.

    My concern now is: does the Bluetooth portion only transmit to computer for use with its companion software, or can it transmit the audio to a bluetooth earpiece or streamer (such as what I have for my hearing aid)?

    I might have to test someone's out and see for myself, but don't know anyone who owns one.

    PondRacer

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    http://apps.rit.edu/studentaffairs/studenthealth/rita/

    Give these guys an email or a call and see if you can talk to one of their EMTs. RIT is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. NTID obviously has a huge deaf population, but many of the students stay at RIT. They have several deaf EMTs. I'm sure they could give you good advice on stethoscopes and other things related to working in EMS.

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    First off, Kudos to you. I have a friend in Iowa that is Deaf, Completely Deaf and is on a paid dept. Also, there is a ff/emt-b on my dept here in east texas that is legally blind and I have worked both EMS and working house fires with him. My wife is HOH, and is our fireground photographer, so there is nowhere for you to go but up and by the looks of it, you are on the right track. Go for it, and keep us posted on your progress!!!!
    Bill Davis
    West Harrison Fire Dept
    2009 Rookie of the Year
    www.westharrisonfire.com
    IACOJ Rookie-We all gotta start somewhere

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    Well, I did a google search for "deaf stethoscope" and came up with some of the following leads:

    http://www.hphl.org.uk/stethoscopes.htm
    http://www.harriscomm.com/catalog/de...p?cPath=46_242

    The top link (from the UK) has a bunch of links in it for other references for medical professionals that are deaf or hard of hearing. The second link is for products from Harris Comm. I know they make a bunch of the encrypted radio systems for the military, so I'm guessing they might have pretty decent products. I also read on one of the pages I found about something called a visual stethoscope. However, I have no personal experience on any of these, so make sure to do some extensive research to make sure they are compatible with your hearing aids and your situation.

    Keep me posted on what you find. This is kind of interesting to me now.

  17. #17
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    I admire your sense of resolve and your passion for this profession! I always tell people that firefighting, is a calling! Not a job... but a calling. I urge you to earnestly and persistently continue your pursuits. You never know what God has in store for your life!

    "Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses... on your powers, instead of your problems."

    - Paul J.Meyer, Personal Growth and Development Expert

    The Axeman

    "Purpose, Truth and Passion Yields Power and Dominion IN ACTION!!!"

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