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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Middle Georgia

    Question Question from a Diabetic Firefighter

    I am a fulltime ff in a small town with a small department - 1 chief, 4 fulltime employees and several volunteers. I am a Type 1 diabetic, insulin dependent. I have been with my department 3 years and have never had an incident with my diabetes on the job. Recently, I had an insulin reaction before I left home for work. My wife had left for work so my kids called for an ambulance and I ended up not going into work that day. Before the day was complete, my chief, without discussing the matter with me to find out what really happened, stripped me of my right to drive the truck and cover a 24 hour shift. Also he discussed this with other employees and volunteers before I came back to work the next day. I have since gone to my dr. who has written me a note assuring my chief that I can drive and handle a 24 hour shift. I am also in the process of getting a glucowatch which will alert me when my blood sugar begins to drop or increase too much. The chief has reinstated my rights. I, of course, was outraged by hi prior actions and his breach of my employment privacy. I presently work a 5 day a week shift, 48 hours a week. We are hiring a new ff soon and it is my hope that this new ff can take my shift and I can have the 24 hour shift. My question is what are my rights? If I am not allowed this priveledge, I feel I am being discriminated against.

    Any suggestion on this matter are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber E229Lt's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000


    Sorry to say it but, where I work you would never be placed back to full duty.

  3. #3
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    I have worked with two insulin dependent firefighters.

    One never had an episode, tested his blood sugar regularly and was a hell of a jake.

    The other firefighter has had only 1 diabetic reaction (he picked up his prescription for his insulin that morning on the way into the station, and the pharmacy made an error and gave him the wrong insulin) since he came on in 1990.

    If you keep your diabetes under control, there shouldn't be a problem.
    ‎"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

  4. #4
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Northwest Ohio


    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo

    If you keep your diabetes under control, there shouldn't be a problem.
    That was my thoughts on the issue. As long as you are doing what you are supposed to do and especially with you getting the watch, I would think it would be OK........

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    West Central Michigan


    I agree with most everybody thats posted this far. As long as you can keep it in check there shouldnt be a problem. I think the chief most likely is concerned be the potential of haveing another incident when the timing might not be right like interior or behind the wheel of an BRT. I think he should have taken the matter up with you first before going through all of his actions though. But like I said as long as its in check I dont think should be a problem.
    Lietuenant 107
    Morton Township Fire/Rescue
    "Good to Go"

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Bay City, MI


    We have had insulin-dependent diabetics here. A couple have
    retired but we have at least one working now. I have never
    seen it be a problem. They are no different than anyone else.
    They work 24's, drive the rigs. The only thing I think would
    be a concern is if you would be at the station alone, there
    would be no one there if you had a problem. I don't think you
    should be treated any differently than anyone else though.
    The chief was definitely wrong for discussing your medical
    condition with anyone else.

  7. #7
    Forum Member Smoke20286's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002


    Sorry to say it but, where I work you would never be placed back to full duty.
    We have several insulin dependant diabetics in our Dept, its never really been a problem. Our union recently purchased an insulin pump for one of our members. He says its just like not having the problem anymore
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Elkhart, IN, USA


    HIPPA (Health Information Privacy and Portability Act) rules were broken by discussing your health with other employees. Within the last year everyone who reads these forums filled out a form at your doctors office about whom they could discuss health information with. All health care workers should have had training on talking about patients. I am not sure of the possible repurcussions of this typeof violation.
    The ADA (Americans with Disabilities) act includes diabetics. The fire service as a whole is not exempt from the Federal ADA laws. Some smaller departments may not qualify. Reasonable accomadations need to be made by employers for employees with certain disabilities. We have a firefighter who is a diabetic and was diabetic before he was hired. If he shold have an injury related to his diabetis pension benifits will suffer.
    See your local EEOC office.

  9. #9
    Forum Member dchomen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Eagle Mountain Utah IAFF L-1696


    Actually , if an individual wants to discuss his or her medical history that is not a volilation of the HIPPA law. If you discibe in general , without any identifiers (information that could identify the person being discussed) then it falls under sharing training information. Just finished teaching this class to our 30 firefighters.

    As to the diabetic question, my son (have his permission to speak about his experience)(Type 1) is now wearing and using an insulin pump. He signed a contract with our chief to check his sugars often while on duty, every 4-6 hours, if a fire call comes in, turn off his insulin pump and if information leads the crew to believe a fire is active he is to consume a 60 carb energy drink. If on a medical turn his basal rate insulin pump to half of normal. This will avoid a low during exertion. For more information goto thediabeticfirefighter (all one word) in yahoo groups.
    Stay Safe and Keep Low,jack.
    Last edited by dchomen; 05-19-2005 at 02:46 PM.

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