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im not a firefighter, but i need advice from one, help me

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  • im not a firefighter, but i need advice from one, help me

    ok im gonna try to make this short but PLEASE read it....

    my boyfriend is 18, and has ALWAYS wanted to be a firefighter and NOTHING else. Thru the years of growing up he developed a stress fracture in his back which causes him pain at times, sometimes from doing heavy work over long periods of time. He usually controls this with advil. The doctor told him that theres nothing he can do about it, it wont get any worse, and that actually alot of professinal athletes have this problem and they just deal with the occasional pain. He could have surgury to fix the pain but that would mean he would have to fuse his spine together, and he wouldn't be able to bend over very well so thats out of the question for him. but thats not the part doesn't bother me.

    a year ago he signed up for the army reserves, so he could go to boot camp and then get his firefighting training paid for and go get his training at the number 2 school in the nation. he didn't tell them about his back. he left for basic training almost 2 months ago and eventually came home with a medical discharge. they found out about his back, and they decided he shouldn't be there so they sent him home. what im worried about is that is now a record on him and not something to be proud of. And deep down i just know that nobody is going to want to hire him, because of his back problem and because he got discharged from the army. he wants to be a firefighter so bad and he has this attitude thinking hes going to have no problem finding a firefighting job, he could just have a doctor put down that hes "better" or try to convince them that he didn't have a problem with boot camp they were the ones that sent him home...

    someone PLEASE give me your take on this, what do u think, will my boyfriend ever fulfull his longtime dream? what would he have to do to get it? ....i feel bad for him

    thanx for your time

    Last edited by jules22; 07-28-2003, 01:04 AM.

  • #2
    I will give it to you straight. It is highly doubtful your boyfriend will get a fulltime firefighting position with a stress fracture in his back. He will not pass the pension board physical. If he can get a doctors release, he may be able to become a volunteer firefighter. Cities and pension boards both are very leery about hiring someone with a history of a bad back. I wish him the best..Maybe miracles do occur.


    • #3
      Some of the most well-intentioned people end up with conditions that keep them from going where they want to go. It doesn't make their interests or efforts any less noble. Unfortunately the physical stress required by the fire service at any given time could quickly put him out of commission permanently, and I don't mean just out of a job. This is not to say he is restricted to a desk job for 40 years, but I would expect the answer to being a fulltime line firefighter to be "no." That being said, I think he's a brother for putting in the effort, so I commend him there. Take care, and good luck!
      Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
      Dennis Miller


      • #4
        Maybe the best advise for your boyfriend is to stay in school. Something in the fire service such as an fire inspector, fire investigator, etc. Encourage these things to him.



        • #5
          I know a firefighter who can't raise his arm above his head because of an injury. His back problem should be fixed, talk to multiple doctors, a fusion may not be a 100% exclusion.
          His back problem does need to be addresed not just delt with. Remember proper lifting doesn't involve bending over at the waist. Again talk to multiple doctors and get their opinion. Also make sure that at liest one is a sports ortho. Today something should be able to be done for him.

          Best of luck


          • #6
            The long and short answer

            While I agree with the assesments given by mikey and kghemtp there still is a chance that he could be hired by a department, but many things have to come together for that to happen. The first thing that needs to happen is to fill out the application honestly,do not hide any medical condition that he may have. The second thing I think he should do is see a doctor who can treat the condition and teach him how to manage any pain he may have. Third there are training programs and trainers who will also teach the proper way to lift and strengthen the lower back. The bottom line will be how bad does he want the job and is he willing to work for it,and after all is said and done he still might not get the job, but you will never know unless you try.
            IACOJ Membership 2002

            Mike IAFF

            The beatings will continue until the morale improves


            • #7
              Don't get down Yet!

              Jules 22,
              Listen. There are very few people in these forums with the experience that I have in this field. I was in the Military, I went to that very same “#2” school you speak of and I am not finished here. I was also let go for a Service Connected Disability; I received the Injury to a Leg and Ankle. It gives me a great deal of pain some days and others not so bad. And I also neglected to say that I am on a career paid Fire Department in Upstate NY. The First thing he needs to learn is the Phone # to the VA nearest him. Any local Phone book will have this # in the Government Section. They can give him a wealth of information and Help finding a job as firemen.
              Second he needs to keep his trap shut about his “Disability” The Physical standards in our States civil service is not that stringent, Ears nose throat turn your head and hack ECG and a lung X ray is all that was asked of me. Do not lie if he is ever asked about his Injury but don’t offer up any information about it unless asked.
              Also He may be eligible for more points on his Civil Service Exam for this Injury. Don’t give up hope on him let him keep trying and support him. I will guarantee that some department somewhere will pick him up with the right score and the right attitude.
              “Just when you think something is made to be Idiot Proof. They go a head and make a better Idiot”


              • #8
                Neman, I'm with ya in the first part of your advice, and I agree that many of us haven't had experiences like you and the lad we're talking about here. Like the Lt said, training & treating a problem to manage it the right way, is an excellent choice. But unlike a leg & ankle injury (which I know can be disabling), we're talking about spinal injuries that you suggest keeping from a potential employer. Is it something the department is privy to, probably not. BUT, it's something that could permanently disable him without the proper attention and due regard. We don't want to write this guy off the job yet, but we have to think about safety and health of everyone involved. He's gonna work with 4 to 40 other guys on a shift that will depend on him when the poo poo starts to fly. In no way would I say everyone else in the fire service functions at 100%, as I could stand to lose 20 pounds, but we have a major concern for THIS guy because the nature of the injury warrants extra scrutiny. 9 out of 10 departments might say he's unfit for duty with such an injury. The 10th might hire him and he can work 20 years without an injury. We don't know these things. However, in this field many things that we fail to communicate can get us killed. Why let this one have that potential, or at least without proper attention first? I wish good luck to injured applicants, and I hope the condition improves to the point this guy is able to work. It doesn't sound like that time is here right now, though.
                Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
                Dennis Miller


                • #9
                  Straight talk...

                  Julia- trust me, all of us on a FD have wanted it as bad
                  as your boyfriend. I have to tell you that the cards are
                  not in his favor. Departments are screening candidates
                  more and more closely in regards to back and/or body injuries.

                  Please consider this, this job could furthur his back injury
                  and maybe leave him in a in wheel chair. No job if worth

                  As stated earlier, there are other positions availible other
                  than fire supression. You will find a wealth of information
                  at www.eatstress.com

                  As for the #1 and #2 schools, I suggest looking to the
                  West coast.



                  • #10
                    I would seriously consider going to a few excellent neurosugeons and consider fusion. I had 3 disks crushed (C 3-4 4-5 5-6) and lower vertebrae (L-4) fractured from a building collapse 5 years ago. The disks were the most painful problem and after about 6 months my upper left side, including the arm was going completely numb and the fractured disk didn't feel all that good either and I decided to have a serious talk with 3 seperate neurosugeons and chose the best one in the state. I decided to go ahead and have all 3 disks fused and the neuro put in 5 screws and a metal plate. Other than some muscle spasms I feel as good as new and yes I can move my head fine. I also had the one vertebrae in the back area fused and that too worked fine. Takes awhile to get back to normal with a lot of excellent therapy (4-7 months) but at least it didn't end my career. Have him check it out. The only minor problem I've had is with a few metal detectors at some airports.

                    Just too add to this. The city doctors tried to have me retired but the nuerosugeon gave me a clean bill of health to carry on. Thats one reason you go to the most talented. His reputation and skill superceded the city's doctors.
                    Last edited by FireCapt1951retired; 07-28-2003, 08:50 PM.


                    • #11
                      Lucky guy...

                      Hey Julia. First off I'd like to second what kghemtp said. I consider him a brother for putting in the effort to become a firefighter. That being said, he's very lucky that he got a medical discharge from the military. I am in Baghdad right now with the Army as a firefighter. I went through the same No. 2 school he was going to go through, Goodfellow AFB, Texas. It is an excellent school, and a tough school. I have known other people that have been discharged because they came in with an existing medical condition and didn't tell about it. They got "Other than honorable" discharges, so a medical discharge is actually pretty good. About his fire service career, again, I echo what other people have said, I can't see a department hiring on someone with a back injury like that. Possibly if he goes to school, gets a fire science degree, goes to some investigator courses. I'm not saying that every firefighter is in shape, or completely 100%, because that isn't true, but an injury like that could flare up at the wrong time, and someone could get hurt besides him. It is also dangerous for him. I hope I've helped, and not just downed him too much. Again, this is only my opinion.

                      Stay safe,

                      "At one point we decided to fight fire with fire, basically your house just burned faster."

                      Recipient of the IACOJ Service Award 2003.


                      • #12
                        thank u all for your honest imput....is there anybody else?


                        • #13
                          Don't give up just yet!


                          I couldn't help but reply to this post. I am a career aviator and volunteer Fire Fighter. About 4 months ago I found out that I had damage to my spine in my lower neck. I was in a lot of pain and I thought both my aviation and fire fighting days were over. I found a very good nuerosurgeon and consulted closely with my aviation doctor as options were explored. I eventually had C-5 thru C-7 fused with a bone graft and stabilizing titanium plate installed to aid in the healing process. Its been a bumpy road with lots of therapy and exercise and several set backs trying to get back to where I was. I have recently reaquired my aviation medical with almost no loss of motion. The guys at the station were great putting up with me on lite duty while healing from the surgery. Lots of good natured kidding but what a good group. I know there is a great difference in where the injury is and the extent of the damage. I would however, follow the others advice. Seek out the best medical advice available before writing off your friends dream. Although the odds may be slim only he can decide if the effort is worth it. When I look out the window at FL 35.0 or jump out of bed answering the page I know mine was right for me. Good Luck!


                          • #14
                            The Physical standards in our States civil service is not that stringent, Ears nose throat turn your head and hack ECG and a lung X ray is all that was asked of me. Do not lie if he is ever asked about his Injury but don’t offer up any information about it unless asked.
                            Ya know that form we all fill out at DMV, The Doctor's office, The Insurace Company, AND every civil service department???

                            It's the one we quickly scroll down checking all the "NO" boxes because it lists every possible injury, disease and malady known to man.

                            Do not lie is good advice, unfortunately, he will be asked.


                            • #15
                              im going to get him to go back to the doctors...the doctors in the town we live in dont have a very good rep of giving excellent information....i want him to go to a much bigger and better hospital


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