1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    east coast

    Question firefighters and depression

    I am in the process of trying to become a career firefighter with one of the local fire departments in our state. Approximately four years ago, I had a bout with depression and had attempted suicide. Fortunately through therapy and prescribed meds, I was able to get the depression under control. I learned that my problems stemmed more from a chemical imbalance than anything else.

    In a conversation with one of my friends who is a volunteer fireman we were discussing how my attempted suicide my imapct my chances of being recruited by ANY department. He said that I had no chance and that once a background check was done this situation would surface and IŽd be done for. I would like to know if this is the case? I have been stable for some time now and want to have a career serving as a firefighter. Should I bring this up in a review board? Would the board know ahead of time and ask questions to see if I would willing tell them about it.

    I ANXIOUSLY AWAIT A RESPONSE ! I need to recieve some insight from those who have sat on boards before or those involved in the recruiting process.

    Thank you for your time.
    Last edited by fortis; 09-30-2002 at 04:37 PM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    League City Texas


    The only way information of this nature could be made public is by word of mouth of people you know or through you telling the board. A typical background check would not discover this type of information and medical records are considered private/confidental.

    As someone who has served on membership committees and Executive boards for several years, I vote for the honesty approach. It won't garranty that you'll be accepted but if it comes out through people that maybe out to harm you then the backlash of the lie is far worse. You might consider having you Dr. write a recommendation for duty as well. With any hope the board members that will be reviewing you will keep an open and objective mind.

    Good luck to you,

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Disclaimer: Don't treat what I say as advice -- it's only my personal gut reaction.

    Ugh, I hate to disagree with someone who probably knows more about this than I do, but coming from the other side -- I wouldn't tell anyone. It's been my experience that there is such a stigma still attached to 'mental illness' that it's better to not bring it up -- until such a time as you need modifications on your job, if that ever arises. Of course, it's tricky to time that right -- especially since, when you're entering a depressive episode, you may not be thinking clearly anyhow.

    I don't by any means advocate dishonesty -- you need to be truthful, especially about meds you're taking, etc. After all, it's your health. But it's not something I'd just volunteer for no reason. It's just been my experience that if you tell me people you have a certain problem or illness or disability it's likely to be used against you in the future. People still have trouble classifying mental illness as an actual illness or disability -- they more often regard it as a character flaw or moral failing, and don't understand the different types of mental illness, but lump it all under 'crazy'.

    Of course, if you have much choice in the matter, I'd advise you to seek out a department that looks like it would be supportive of you if you run into a problem spot again. Also, bear in mind that it's not legal to discriminate against you based on a disability that won't prevent you from doing your job with reasonable modifications, so you have that on your side too.

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