Early Detection is Key

June 14, 2021

After completing the medical history questionnaire and prior to hire and/or being assigned firefighter training and emergency duties, structural firefighter candidates should complete a medical examination that complies with OSHA 1910.134, 120, 156 and/or NFPA 1582. These physicals are appropriate for all firefighter classifications – career, volunteer, whether full or part-time, or on-call. This examination tests potential firefighters with a series of medical/physical tests and provides for much needed early detection.

Many providers will bring this testing to your fire department. So, what is involved with this type of physical exam?

At a minimum, firefighter physicals should rule out health problems to include heart disease, epilepsy, and lung problems (i.e. emphysema). Usually, a portion of the physical exam includes aerobic activity to measure your heart’s functionality while under stress. A pulmonary function test will measure lung capacity and, combined with a cardiac stress test, will measure how efficiently your body uses oxygen during work. Bloodwork helps to identify problems or precursors to problems with your organs, such as diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. Some blood tests can even screen for certain types of cancer.

The medical examination typically includes:

·      Blood analysis

·      Urinalysis

·      Pulmonary function test

·      Chest X-ray (every five years)

·      EKG (cardiac)

·      Infectious disease screening

·      Cancer screening (such as skin, thyroid, bladder, colorectal, prostate, and blood)

·      Hearing exam

·      Vision testing

Additionally, specialized firefighters, such as HazMat Technicians, may require further testing and/or medical examinations appropriate with the duties/tasks the specialized firefighter is expected to perform.

Remember, don’t wait until you are sick or injured to get a physical. These examinations play a vital role in prevention and help make sure “Everyone Goes Home.”

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