Firefighter Physicals: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Firefighter Physicals: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Senior Airman John Barron, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection journeymen, runs on the treadmill in the gym at Fire Station 1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Victoria Sneed.)

By Todd LeDuc

Although National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, speaks to the need for incumbent or entry-level firefighters to have annual physicals, this is not a reality for the American fire service. In fact, at a recent conference that was attended largely by predominantly health and safety officer types, a packed room of these attendees was asked if they had ever read NFPA 1582; only a few hands went up.

A 2016 survey conducted by the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC’s) Safety, Health and Survival Section that had 9,000 respondents and which followed up on a 2006 survey on the same topic showed that, although improvement had occurred, work still remains to ensure that every firefighter receives a fire service physical. Eighty percent of career departments reported offering members a physical, while a far less number of all-volunteer departments offered one to its members. The specific results in Table 1 are broken down by department type.

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