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Some input on what will happen?

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  • Some input on what will happen?

    I just wanted to ask this to my fellow FF's..

    We have a rookie that just joined us about three weeks ago. For the most part, the guy does good. He doesn't talk much, always keeping busy and working hard and taking initiative. Well here's the catch, the guy is deathly afraid of heights. I mean terrified. He'll go halfway up a 24 foot extension ladder and that's it. We've tried to work with him almost every shift, but he can't seem to get over this fear. With our manpower and newly built tall buildings we're going to need this guy to climb a ladder one day. He won't even look at the aerial ladder in training either. Our Captain has agreed to do his best to keep him away from ladders on scene, because this guy just isn't going to climb them, no matter how hard we try to help him. The other day our Captain had told him he would need to come speak to him about the heights issue.

    Now, this guy is asking me and several others exactly what will happen to him but I cannot answer because I don't know. Now, what will likely happen here? Will he be terminated due to not being able to climb ladders? Be put on the engine company? Told if he can't climb them, it's a safety issue and a job requirement and be released?

    My whole issue is this guy is on the truck with me and I don't even wanna think about him bailing on me, but for the most part he's a good Firefighter except for heights.

  • #2
    That last line...

    It's the last line that has me worried, "He's a good firefighter, EXCEPT for heights."

    Heights are a part of the job. He knew that coming on. I'm assuming your part of a paid department, so yeah, I could see him getting fired possibly, especially in his probationary period, for his refusal to climb the ladder. It's not just an issue with him, it's a safety issue all around. Even on the Engine, guys have to use ladders occasionally. I've never seen an Engine man give his line to a Truckie to carry up the ladder, while he tries to find a way up the stairs to meet him someplace.

    Before anything happens though, seriously try to get him some counselling. He may have a completely irrational reason for this fear. Best advice, do what you've been doing, and keep trying to help. But if he does end up getting fired, it's mostly because he can't do the job, the way it's been laid out. I'll never know why someone who can't stand heights, period, goes and becomes a firefighter, in an area, with more then trailers in it.

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    • #3
      *I* am afraid of heights myself.I'll go on a roof if assigned to but I don't go out of my way to do it.I get airsick watching "Top Gun",too.
      As another said,it's part of the job and hopefully this guy will get used to it.Help him find a comfort level or make sure that he doesn't get hurt before he decided to leave himself before higher higher does it for him.
      As to how I got on a job where ladders and tall buildings are a common occurence:I was on a vollie department where the tallest building in the district is 36 feet tall.The water tower counts as special rescue and since I'm not qualified for that,all I could do on those calls is gopher or stage out anyway.
      Like I said,I go up but if I don't have to,I am quite happy to remain on terra firma.The more firmer,the less terror.

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      • #4
        Did he go through an academy? I would guess no because there is normally plenty of ground ladder and aerial work. It may sound silly, but tell him to try and see a hypnotist to get over his fear of heights. Have seen it work for guys for other things, woth a try to keep this job.

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        • #5
          Don't get me wrong, I've got a touch of the fear of heights myself. But coming onto my department, I knew heights were an issue. We have a 110 aerial, and we all need to know how to operate, and ride the bucket. If i had a serious issue with that, I know it could have potentially meant me getting told no go.

          But there also seems to be a prevailing attitude with most people, that as much as they dislike heights, they will go up if the job necessitates it. That's the problem I'm seeing in mattc05's post, they guy refused to go more than twelve feet up.

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          • #6
            Have him perform tasks at high altitudes in a very safe environment, such as at the station or training academy with fellow firefighters he trusts. The more he is in that environment the less he will be afraid. Also, a support group with him makes things less stressful.

            Oh, and tell him not to look down
            Local 2068

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jerry4184 View Post
              Don't get me wrong, I've got a touch of the fear of heights myself. But coming onto my department, I knew heights were an issue. We have a 110 aerial, and we all need to know how to operate, and ride the bucket. If i had a serious issue with that, I know it could have potentially meant me getting told no go.

              But there also seems to be a prevailing attitude with most people, that as much as they dislike heights, they will go up if the job necessitates it. That's the problem I'm seeing in mattc05's post, they guy refused to go more than twelve feet up.

              jerry, honestly I have a small fear of heights as well but when it comes time for an emergency or even just sucking it up and climbing then I can do it. I feel the same way as you, he should have known heights were a part of the job. He did climb it at the academy and went halfway up the aerial. Not climbing the aerial may be acceptable because he could go on the engine, but not even going halfway up an extension ladder well that is a serious issue. Other than the heights the guy know his stuff, does well on all other calls but he's looking for answers and we have none.

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              • #8
                That's the problem, for 99.99% of the stuff, he can pull his weight. It's that other .01%. I have to agree with what was said before, just keep trying to get him to do it, and work with him in controlled areas.

                I will say, a big thing that keeps me calm on the fireground as far as heights are concerned, is that I know I'm with a group of guys and gilrs that know their stuff, and won't let anything happen to me. If anything, being a little scared, makes me more careful when operating on a ladder.

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                • #9
                  He has been in for 3 WEEKS?? I think he needs the academy and some time.

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                  • #10
                    I too had some issues with heights when I began as a firefighter. I truly believe that on some level we all do. The issue is not being afraid, it is how we deal with it. I was able to come up with ways to manage mine quite effectively. Depending on how much your guy can handle, here are two things to try.

                    First, have talk to him about controlling his breathing. doing this in a set, rhymical pattern is all it took to help me.

                    Second, If he is as bad as you say, I have seen guys go up a ladder with a person hugging the beam around the climber. (Similar to the rescues in IFSTA, but going up instead of down.) It takes a while, but I've seen people do it to help others.

                    I know we are now getting into suggestions and options when you really asked what will happen to this guy. I wen this route because what will happen to him is really only up to you (your department). I know that if it were me personally and this guy was on my crew I would do EVERYTHING within my power to work with and help him if he is going to be staying on my crew. Keeping him away from ladders now may seem great, but what do you do if there comes a day when you can no longer protect the poor chud and you need him to climb a ladder to save you or someone else's life?

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                    • #11
                      If he can't climb a ladder, he has no place in the fire service. Plain and simple!

                      Peoples lives are in the balance, and if this guy can't even climb a 24-footer in training , how can he possibly do it under the added stress of the fire ground?

                      He needs to either get with the program, or get out! He is a liability!

                      That may sound harsh, but this job can be harsh too.




                      Kevin
                      Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
                      IAFF Local 2339
                      K of C 4th Degree
                      "LEATHER FOREVER"
                      Member I.A.C.O.J.
                      http://www.tfdfire.com/
                      "Fir na tine"

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                      • #12
                        I agree with an earlier post that he needs to get some more time on the job and go through an academy. There was a guy in my academy who was terrified of heights but with help from the instructors and classmates he was able to get through it and now he can't get enough of climbing ladders with a little time and help he should be fine.
                        Fir Na Tine

                        "You can't help anyone, without getting there first!"

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                        • #13
                          Didn't he need to go through the academy, or get FF1 certified to get the job? I was afraid of heights when I started my FF1 training. The instructors could tell at first as well. I just knew I needed to get over it to ever pass the class and get a job. I eventually did. I'm still not happy to be climbing them, but I wouldn't think twice about doing it when needed. Even in training.

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                          • #14
                            Not to be too harsh here....BUT

                            The victim screaming for their life trapped by a fire, hanging from a window....THEY DON'T GIVE A DAMN IF YOU'RE SCARED OF HEIGHTS....They don't want to die.

                            As a FF heights are part of the job...we had an Explorer get over his fear of heights. We practiced on ladders gradually going higher. He could climb our aerial before moving on to college.

                            We also had a FF who lost his job because he could not climb a ladder.He said he couldn't do it, so there went a great job.

                            Bottom line is he needs to get over his fear...or enough to where he can perform his duties. To coddle him, not send him up a ladder is wrong. He must do the job he accepted.

                            WE ARE NOT IN THIS PROFESSION FOR OURSELVES, BUT THOSE WHO WILL NEED US.
                            The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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                            • #15
                              Give him time

                              In some way shape of form everyones affraid of heights buy every one can get over them, just give him time and support him a little by little, get out the ladder and have him climb one step more each shift, of each tranning, reasure him the the brotherhood of firefighters is behind him and it will be ok ... just dont give up , hes a good Firefighter remeber

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