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  1. #1
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    Question Medical Exams & Company availablity?

    What does your dept do for medical examinations?

    Brooklyn Skyline
    Physical Danger
    By Jesse Serwer


    While firefighters of Ladder Co. 153 were taking their department physicals, a bedridden 82-year-old woman died in a blaze just blocks from their fire house last Thursday.

    Now, elected officials are calling for an investigation into the longtime FDNY practice of closing down an entire company so firefighters can take medical exams.

    Firefighters of the Avenue U station were having check-ups when a fire broke out inside the Ocean Parkway home of retired Rabbi Abraham Hecht and his elderly wife Lillian.

    Although Engine Co. 254 was the first of seven companies to respond to the fire just three minutes after the initial 911 call, it was already too late to save Hecht.

    Her death could have been prevented if the local ladder company — whose primary mission is to search for and rescue possible victims — had been operational and not entirely shut down for the day, according to state Senator Carl Kruger.

    “Taking an entire company out of their house for the day is like closing an entire precinct for the day,” Kruger charged Friday. “This is like playing Russian roulette with the people in our community. This family was virtually sitting on the doorstep of a ladder company that was having its physicals done.”

    Rabbi Hecht, the founder of Gravesend’s Congregation Shaare Zion and the longtime president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, was able to escape with only minor injuries, along with the couple’s granddaughter, great granddaughter and a home health aide.

    “We want our officers to be healthy and well but we don’t want a reduction in services,” he said. “Why can’t they stagger these checkups and do them one at a time like they do in the Police Department or other professions?”

    Kruger said he was urging “the formation of an independent panel” to examine the policy. He was joined by Congressman Anthony Weiner, who also asked Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta to review the situation Friday.

    “This is clearly a cost-cutting measure, and, in this situation, it endangered someone’s life,” Weiner said. “There has to be a better and safer way to do this. Either keep men there on overtime, assign surplus officers from other companies or, ideally, pay the men overtime to get this physical when they’re not working.”

    Asked if the Fire Department would re-evaluate the medical policy in light of the Hecht fire, FDNY spokesman Frank Gribbon noted that Engine Co. 254, from the same firehouse as Ladder Co. 153, arrived in three minutes.

    “Despite the efforts of the firefighters, this was simply a death that could not have been prevented,” Gribbon said. “The only thing that could have been prevented was the fire itself, which marshals believe was caused by a space heater on the first floor which may have been too close to some combustible materials.”

    Weiner disagreed.

    “Having someone put water on the fire was not what was important in this case, it was doing search and rescue, which is what (Ladder 153) would have done,” he said. “While it may save a few bucks, it seems indefensible on public safety grounds.”

    Kruger noted that just one day after the Hecht tragedy, another company in his district — Engine Co. 321 on Gerritsen Avenue — was closed for the day for medical examinations.

    Gribbon said the Fire Department’s current medical policy — in which firefighters get examinations and training while their trucks go to the shop for maintenance — has been in effect since 1998. A similar policy, where firefighters drove their truck to the old FDNY medical office, was in effect for decades before that.

    “I’ve been in this business a long time and I had never heard that this was the policy,” Weiner said.

    In a statement made the day of the fire, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy — who has asked that firefighters be given a day off for the examinations — called Lillian Hecht’s death “needless.”

    Memorial services for Lillian Hecht, a Holocaust survivor, were held Friday morning at Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Borough Park.


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    There was nothing that could have been done for Mrs. Hecht. The person who placed the space heater too close to combustibles sealed her fate.

    This is a case of political grandstanding by Congressman Weiner and State Senator Kruger.

    “Taking an entire company out of their house for the day is like closing an entire precinct for the day,” Kruger charged Friday. “This is like playing Russian roulette with the people in our community. This family was virtually sitting on the doorstep of a ladder company that was having its physicals done.”
    Where was Senator Kruger when Bloomberg was closing companies and cutting staffing?

    “This is clearly a cost-cutting measure, and, in this situation, it endangered someone’s life,” Weiner said. “There has to be a better and safer way to do this. Either keep men there on overtime, assign surplus officers from other companies or, ideally, pay the men overtime to get this physical when they’re not working.”
    Great concept...but watch the politicians scream when the $$$ figures come in...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber CFD Hazards's Avatar
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    I agree that nothing could be done for this woman. A mobile medical company comes every year to do our physicals. They park a large trailer outside HQ and each company is taken out of service for exams. The entire process takes 1-2 hours but for that duration, the company is out of service. Members can have the paperwork and exam done by their own doctors on their own time if they wish. The company that is brought in is very thorough. We are the only department in this area, that I am aware of, that has annual physicals run by the department. Personally, I think that every department should be doing them. I know that I was fine my first two years but the third, I tested positive for TB. I know that I went to two medical calls for TB patients and must have gotten it from one of them. Of course they never told us when we got there that they had it, the rescue found out when they got to the hospital. If I didn't get the TB test at my physical I may not have found out that I had it and certainly would not have been able to place a year on it.

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