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Wanna work with a deaf firefighter?

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  • #31
    My first reaction to the topic of this forum entitled "Wanna work with a deaf firefighter?" was no. I have worked with firefighters with other physical limitations such as having one lung, no fingers and so on, but never a deaf firefighter and I didn't think it would ever be possible. But after reading the testimony of those who have actually worked with deaf firefighters I'm willing to give it a try.


    • #32
      Glad to see I picked a hot one for my first topic. Folks, my dad was blind and he would call folks like lady-in-turnouts and dave, "Crusaders". Face it, there are limitations in certain jobs. My son has a disability and I WILL NOT crusade him to prove some point, only to have him get hurt.

      My lifelong dream was to fly rescue helicopters. At the time I tried, they only took people with 20/20 eyes. I didn't crusade. it was safety folks.

      When I first started in PG county 23 years ago, there was a guy (I think laurel) who had one arm and ran the BA unit. He filled many a bottle of mine, and I am proud to have served with him. But I would not want to depend on him in the interior. Nor would I want to bear the liability if he was hurt doing exterior work due to his disability.

      Amen to you brutha Eng522, PG county has already killed too many in apparatus accidents, including backing. We need a deaf guy to add to the casualty list?

      The possibilities for trouble are endless. And we are talking PG county here, not some rural 100-calls-per-year-operation.

      Like Clint Eastwood said, Every man's gotta know his limitations. This character will get alot more respect if he heeds this advice.

      Happy Easter, brothers and sisters.


      [This message has been edited by Grit (edited 04-14-2001).]


      • #33
        First thing First, he will obviously not make an offensive firefighting attack, therefore he wont need to hear air horns or worry about seeing hand signals thru the smoke. So with that in mind I think that he DEFINATELY has a place in the fire service and I think he should get together with PG and make decisions on what he can and can not do. But in the end he should get turnout gear and be labeled as a Firefighter with a few limitations. And If the guy is reading this post GOOD LUCK!


        • #34
          First, we dont know what degree this mans deafness extends to. There are varying degrees. Just because a person is termed "deaf" does not mean they can not hear everything. He may wear hearing aids, and depending on if they are digital or not(technology is amazing macsen, believe it or not) he could hear lots of things. A horn blast or pass device would be no problem. Deaf people are extremely sensitive to certain things. I would say that if you took this guy out in the bay, pulled out the engine and blasted the horn, he would get the vibration from it(which all sounds emit). Also, some people have brought up communication issues. You are aware that some deaf people can speak right? Its amazing--their voice box works just like everyones elses! Frkve2 if you're dropping a needle and leaving it on the ground long enough for someone to be injured I think you have a problem. And do you say "clear" without visually checking the area to double-check?? I have seen HEARING medics/EMTs who have been so occupied that they have missed the first "clear" being yelled.Deaf people are extremely visual--their eyes are essentially their ears, and they probably "hear" more than the rest of us.Grit--if you want to teach your child to sit back and never give life a try, thats your decision.I'm not a crusader, but I do believe in giving everyone a fair chance. I refuse to let my sons disability rule his life. I'm not saying this firefighter should go in on the nozzle, but why not exterior work?? We all know how much work there is on the fireground. Give the man a chance to prove himself.BTW macsen, I see your in CT also. We'd gladly come to your dept and show you available technology and what deaf people can do.


          • #35
            If you're relying on backup alarms to make sure you don't hit anyone, your in the same boat as pressing the shock button on a defibrilator without visually checking to make sure the patient is clear.

            It's negligence on your part.

            Any time you are backing up vehicles around other persons, in areas you're not familiar with, or any other time you feel uncomfortable have someone back you. If you don't have the manpower to back you, get out of the drivers seat, walk around, size up what your doing, and warn people around you that your about to back up.

            We're talking about fundemental basics of safety here folks -- your responsible to make sure your actions don't endanger someone else; they're not because even if they can hear you, they still can't read your mind.


            • #36
              First of all, I said "accidentally" drop a sharp. Not throw it on the floor or drop it without regard for others...only an idiot would do that. Second, i was just giving a couple of obvious examples from the many, many others to choose from. I have absoloutly no problem with this person working in a support function and wouldnt have a problem if he had some sort of an aid to help him hear so he could accomplish his career goals. But to say you can make "reasonable accomodations" with interior firefighting by flashing a light at him or some other crazy idea is insane.


              • #37
                My older brother, who left the fire service for law enforcement and has since retired, read this thread and reminded me of a house fire we had early one hot and humid summer afternoon in 1970 when all we had was a tiny day crew available to respond.

                Part of the crew was the deaf firefighter whom I described in my earlier post. He hit the hydrant, charged the line when signalled to do so, raised a ladder, made sure the tempermental K-12 started, passed the roof ladder up, changed SCBA bottles, administered O2, somehow dug up a bucket of icy water and towels, and when all was said and done helped rack the hose.

                Now I know someone is out there thinking real hard just dying to find a way he could have been hurt or hurt someone else, but it didn't happen, and never happened at any of the fires he went to in his almost 30 years of service.

                Yeah, that's right almost 30 years. He joined on when World War 2 took away a lot of the firefighters and was asked to stay on after the war ended.

                You say that you can't be deaf and be a firefighter? Well then how did he do it for almost 30 years?


                • #38
                  Way to Go eCappy...Just goes to show you that it can be done !!


                  • #39

                    Q) What happens the first time he doesn't hear a back-up alarm on an engine?

                    Same thing that happens when the deaf little old lady crossing behind the apparatus doesn't hear it and gets hit. We've all got people on our departments that can't get out of their own way much less an apparatus in reverse. By the way, a backer and/or a rear vission camera is a reasonable accomodation and if you get in a lawsuit over a backing accident, you better have had one. "Uh, gee, I, uhm, we, it's like this uh, you don't understand, well," isn't the right answer when the lawyer asks why you hit Miss Jones or Fireman Fred while operating your 40,000#, 30' long, 8' wide vehicle on a public roadway.

                    To answer the actual question asked in the post... NO, I would not want to work with a deaf firefighter.

                    Please go back and point to any part of the original question in this post that asks if you want to work with a deaf FF.

                    Not there is it... The question was "What do you folks think" in regards to this person suing under the ADA.

                    I'm 99.9% sure he wins which would include a pretrial settlement or judgement in his favor. Courts have shown on too many occassions in the past that he'll win.

                    The question for him is when he wins, does he want to serve in a place where the courts have forced the department to accept him? Or does he want to move on to a place where he can qualify and participate to the best of his ability based soley on that ability?


                    Like Clint Eastwood said, Every man's gotta know his limitations. This character will get alot more respect if he heeds this advice.

                    Whose to say he doesn't? Have you given him a shot to let him show you what he could do? Did you guys ask him what his limitations were? Or are you throwing a stereotypical view of the deaf onto him?

                    You're PG County, how about giving us the whole story. Does he use hearing aids? How well does he here with them? Is he totally deaf? In both ears?

                    Don't get me wrong here, but I've been in some of your stations. And while I think overall they're great folks, I've met grown men and women on several of your departments that when you look at them you just know they won't be able to pull the guy sitting right next to them out of a jam. Would you disput that statement, Grit? Every fire department in the nation has these people.

                    If you feel this strongly about this deaf guy, why do you allow these other folks that will not/are not able to handle the same tasks you expect of the deaf guy to hang around?

                    lady_in_turnouts makes a good point when she says "I have seen HEARING medics/EMTs who have been so occupied that they have missed the first "clear" being yelled." And I'll add one more, I've seen on more than one occasion paramedics zap themself on accident. Another case of the bonehead that can't get out of his or her own way. They should be removed from service immediately. Right?

                    Nice summary eCappy.

                    Just like those of us that don't want a deaf guy on the department and are appalled that he is suing, I am no fan of the ADA. It's just another bunch of "you ain't acting right so we're going to force you too" federal government BS. But for those of you that want to keep this guy off an FD just because he's deaf, I'd like to remind you that it's attitudes like that that got us the ADA in the first place.

                    Again, he may not be an inside guy, but is there not anything on the fireground that this guy can do?


                    • #40
                      And another thing:

                      From The ADA and City Governments: Common Problems on the US DOJ Web Site http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/comprob.htm

                      Access to civic life by people with disabilities is a fundamental goal of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To ensure that this goal is met, Title II of the ADA requires State and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. This requirement extends not only to physical access at government facilities, programs, and events -- but also to policy changes that governmental entities must make to ensure that all people with disabilities can take part in, and benefit from, the programs and services of State and local governments.

                      Here's a whole page from the USDOJ on State/Local Government and the ADA.

                      Here's a few more highlites:

                      I. Who is Covered by Title II of the ADA

                      All activities, services, and programs of public entities are covered, including activities of State legislatures and courts, town meetings, police and fire departments, motor vehicle licensing, and employment.

                      II. Overview of Requirements

                      State and local governments --

                      May not refuse to allow a person with a disability to participate in a service, program, or activity simply because the person has a disability.

                      Hope your lawyers are better than the folks that handle your budget...


                      • #41
                        This is going to be a rarity, but I agree with PG on this one. A deaf person being a firefighter, NO WAY - NO HOW. People carry this Americans with Disabilities Act just a little to far sometimes. I don’t know if they are trying to make a point or just want their 15 minutes of fame. I agree with the person who made mention of Clint Eastwood's famous line, A MAN HAS GOT TO KNOW HIS LIMITATIONS! This quote fits perfectly in this situation. Lets face it, no one want's to be born with a disability but people are every day and they should realize that their are going to be some things they just cant do. I think it is selfish and self-serving for someone to file suit under the ADA to try and get the Court to give him or her permission to do something they shouldn't be doing anyway. And in this case it's putting the lives of people in danger.
                        Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for the individual in the fire service, even on emergency incidences. Just not in a place where verbal communications could mean the difference between life and death!
                        Keep the faith and stay safe.


                        • #42
                          Whoever asked, I don't know this guy. Maybe someone can pass the word to him and he can throw his own 2 cents in. Not very honorable to be talking behind his back, I suppose.

                          Now you all got me thinking to the 6 or 7 PG firefighters we have buried as LODD's while I have been there. Every one would be just as dead if they had no hearing ability.

                          Plus Mongo you got me thinking to the guy I lived at the tick house with, who absolutely knew his limitations, and would naturally fill support roles. He took abuse from everyone because he was a "non" as far as interior firefighting goes. I was the only one who would share a beer with this guy; he knew his place and I respected this. I still don't understand why everyone didn't like him: he did the things that everyone else didn't want to do, but needed to be done. Kinda like EMS only people, but that's a whole other topic.

                          So let's give the hearing impaired guy a permanent red helmet (exterior ops only, so you all know), and make him sign a waiver that his family can't sue if he gets hurt.

                          Oops - I forgot to ask, who fathers my children if HE gets ME hurt or killed? Get real here folks. What's next, letting mobility-impaired people be police officers who might need to chase down your daughter's rapist? Blind bus drivers taking your kids to school? I don't know what fantasy world some of you live in.

                          Oh: and one more thing. If the fireman who received a bunch of heroism awards for saving my sorry *** had been deaf, good chance that he/she would not have even known that I was in a jam. And since he was the only one who knew where I was at the time, You all would not have to listen to me rant here because I would be dead. He would be alive, but making a good ADA poster child.

                          A voice from the real world,



                          • #43
                            Mongo.... Read that little link you clicked on to get to the thread. Unless your computer is different from mine, it SHOULD read "Wanna work with a deaf firefighter?" THAT is the "original question" that I was referring to.

                            Also, yes, Mongo, you're right that anyone behind an engine as it backs up will most likely be killed or injured. So why in the hell would we want to ADD to the potential of that happening but putting this well meaning deaf fellow at risk? As we all know, a fireground is dangerous with all 5 senses working at 100%, so why take the chance? It just doesn't make good sense. With the focus on firefighter safety, as it is today, why introduce a person to the fireground who is, at best, endangering himself?


                            • #44

                              I forgot to ask, who fathers my children if HE gets ME hurt or killed?

                              Who's going to do this if little 98# Suzy gets you killed because she can't drag you out? Or do you require all of your firefighters to be able to rescue the biggest among you?


                              I stand corrected.

                              As we all know, a fireground is dangerous with all 5 senses working at 100%, so why take the chance? It just doesn't make good sense.

                              A few days ago a post started about a guy with one eye being a firefighter. Does the same apply for him?


                              So we've got some FF's posting here that have worked with deaf firefighters before that had no problems with it (FYI - I haven't worked with a deaf FF).

                              And we've got FFs that haven't worked with deaf firefighters that have problems with working with one and won't even give the guy a chance to show what he can do.

                              I wonder who has the bigger problem - us or the deaf guy?


                              • #45
                                OK...I understand that the topic of this thread is "wanna work with a deaf firefighter", but my question is...what's next week's thread gonna be called?
                                "Wanna work with a firefighter that wears glasses?"
                                "Wanna work with a firefighter that is color blind?"
                                "Wanna work with a firefighter that is diabetic?"
                                "Wanna work with a firefighter that is ...?

                                I'm sure you can all see where this is going.

                                For everyone that has been quoting NFPA this and NFPA that...remember this...the NFPA IS NOT LAW...the Americans with Disabilties Act is. Does your department follow EVERY NFPA guideline to the letter??? I doubt it.


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