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Blind Firefighter

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  • Blind Firefighter

    Ok I saw this posted in the volunteer forum. I have all the respect for this kid and he has all the heart in the world. I am just amazed at some of the replies to this. I don't want to seem like a ***** but how can you have a blind firefighter? I just wanted to see what some others thought on this

    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthread.php?t=100434
    blind volunteer

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hello,

    I am writing this because I have some questions and I want to get some opinions from others in the fire service. I am a life long resident of Brushton, NY which is up near the Canadian border and I joined the local fire department as soon as I turned 18. I was always interested in the fire service and wanted to be a volunteer fireman my whole life. Ever since I got in, I have been extremely active in my dept. I am currently the dept's vice president and secretary and also am a representative on our county fire advisory board. I have taken classes in bus rescue, accident victim extrecation, incident safety officer, fire behavior and arsen awareness, principles of fire investigation, and after next week I will be at the ICS300 level. Last year I made the second most calls out of anybody in our dept.

    I may have forgotten to mention in the above paragraph that I am 100% blind. I don't mention it because I don't think it is a big deal. In my five years, the guys have worked with me and have allowed me to learn how things work in the fire service. I have been on fire scenes and done pretty much anything an exterior firefighter can do.

    I have also been lucky that all of our area depts that we respond in a mutual aid capacity to have been supportive. That was until a couple of months ago. One of our area depts has just elected a new chief and he has been against me being in the fire service since day 1. He called my chief and told him that he didn't want me on anymore of their fire scenes because he is concerned for my safety. Now I could see where he is coming from if I ever did anything at a fire scene in their district that had hurt me or had hurt someone else, but I haven't. Half the time when I go to this dept's fires I stand at the dumptank with the 15 or so other people who have nothing better to do and I help dump tankers. Other times I have helped pick up hose or fill air bottles.

    Now I realize that some of you are sitting there scratching your heads wondering how the hell I do it. I was born blind but I was raised in a sighted world. I went to a regular school and had regular sighted friends and did regular everyday small town things with my friends. My parents didn't baby me or give me special treatment and I've had to work for everything I have just like anyone else. And last year, I married the chief's daughter. I can do most things on a fire scene that don't involve putting on an airpack and running into a burning building. I've had an airpack on and been able to experience it but I obviously know that is not in my scope of things that I can do on a fire scene. I have been familiarized with the 4 units in my department and I know how to run the pumps on all of our trucks. I was put to the test last year when I ran a draft sight for a structure fire. You can ask anyone in my dept but there wasn't a single problem and every tanker that needed water got it that night, with me pulling the levers on the pump pannal.

    Now, other than to let you know a little bit about me, I am posting this thread to ask people what they would do if I was a ff in their local dept. Would you allow me on your fire scene, or would you be like this guy and limit me like I have never been limited before. The sad thing is the guy refuses to meet with me even after I have written him a letter and told him that I was writing it as a firefighter but not as a representative of my dept. He still goes through my chief and won't meet with me. I am not trying to be cockie but I am confident that you would be amazed if you could see the things that I can do in the fire service. I take pride in being a local volunteer and would want to lose my privilage of being one. I am one of those people who can't bare to miss calls and will not sit home and listen to the call on the scanner cuz i don't feel like going. I was once told that if every volunteer ff had my heart then no one would ever go second alarm.

    So what would you do? Be honest. If you have serious doubts, please share them. I will answer any questions that anyone has. I know I am not the only person with a disability in the fire service. I once met a kid in a local dept who was deaf and I know there are other cases of deaf people being in the fire service. I think it would be cool if I could find another blind firefighter. One of my arguments through this whole thing has been that sometimes the firefighters who are safety concerns are the ones that are perfectly able and think they can save the whole world by themselves. And I think everybody knows someone like that.

    So hopefully this generates some interesting discussion and we'll see where it goes.
    Shut the nozzle stupid, thats' smoke not fire!

  • #2
    Not even going to take the time to read the lengthy post. If your blind, you cannot be a firefighter. Period.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

    Comment


    • #3
      Gotta agree with you there. My last job we had a guy with two hearing aids and without them he was VERY deaf and I didn't trust him to get deep in fires because they could malfunction and now what little he could hear, now he hears less. Good guy though...

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah, a lot of respect to the guy, but I don't know how you can be a firefighter while being 100% blind. A lot of the tasks involved in the fire service require members to be able to see what's going on and what they're doing. That's just my opinion.
        Pinewald Pioneer Vol. Fire Co. No. 1 Sta. 20
        "Piney Power"

        Berkeley Emergency Response Team (B.E.R.T./Haz-Mat/WMD/CBRNE) Station 85
        Berkeley Township, New Jersey 08721

        Comment


        • #5
          Well, he does say "I can do most things on a fire scene that don't involve putting on an airpack and running into a burning building". Before I can leave my opinion, I need some answers.

          Sticking to what he says about being able to do most things on the fire scene:

          1. So you can ride the hydrant seat, deploy at the plug, wrap it, connect it, and know when the chauffeur is ready for you to charge the supply line?

          2. I need horizontal ventilation immediately. I can tell you to go and grab a pike pole and take out all of the windows on sides B & C? You can do this?

          3. While you are operating at the pump panel (you said you can do this) and I call for another line off of your truck, you know if you can afford to feed another line?

          4. I just stretched a 200' 1 3/4" line off the truck with a smooth bore, you know how to charge my line with the correct pressure just by feeling the knob?

          5. We are on an auto accident, and I need you to shore the vehicle?
          Chris Shields
          Lieutenant / EMT
          Haz-Mat Technician
          East Syracuse Fire Dept
          Onondaga County, NY

          Comment


          • #6
            I bet he'd be pretty damn good at searching for vics in heavy smoke conditions!

            Comment


            • #7
              How can someone whose blind write that long of a post?

              Comment


              • #8
                However the heck Ray Charles can push all those little buttons on the piano, I don't know, but he does it pretty well. Running a fire pump is a completly different story. I don't see it happening unless the gages are in braille. Don't get me wrong, you can pump by the sound of the engine, done it many times, sort of like driving a stick-shift without a tachometer. But I would always doube check myself with the gauges. What if the one time, "It sounded like the correct pressure" results in a LODD.

                Got to give it to the guy for trying but I agree with his Chief, huge safety hazard!!
                "In general terms, firefighting isn't always about putting the fire out; its about making sure anything else doesn't catch on fire. What's burned is burned. Once you understand this, your tunnel vision is replaced by effective strategy."

                Comment


                • #9
                  he may not be able to do the same things that all of us do but he at least tries to help out and be a part of the team and I'll give him props for that
                  The Box. You opened it. We Came...

                  "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I commend your dedication, though I REALLY don't see how someone who can't see be 100% dependable to get something done NOW in an emergency.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Liability, Maybe??

                      I truly commend this brother. He has his heart in the right place, unfortunately I would see this as being a huge liability. Being able to visually size-up a fire scene is paramount. I would almost think him being inside the building is a lot safer than him being outside. I mean what would happen if someone popped up at a window that no one else had seen. He would never be able to see it and therefore nothing would be transmitted for the rescue of that victim. There are just too many things that I can see (pardon the pun) going wrong. I do recall the Paterson NJ fire department and how one of their members finally got on with a prosthetic leg, but all the red tape he had to go through to achieve it. Again, I mean no ill-feelings toward this person. Stay safe.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There is a place for you in the volunteer fire service, but I really would have a hard time allowing you to operate on a fireground.

                        Perhaps in a truly stationary support operation. Operating a radio at the command post (kind of like a chief's aide) comes to mind, or working a rehab station.

                        The administrative part of the volunteer fire service is always looking for competent people who have a brain. Running the "business" of the fire company takes a huge commitment and is so important.
                        I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                        "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                        "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
                          Perhaps in a truly stationary support operation. Operating a radio at the command post (kind of like a chief's aide) comes to mind, or working a rehab station.
                          Sorry Chief, gotta disagree with ya there.
                          Many places are moving away from the old systems, and you have to change towers, and visualize the channel you are on.
                          I commend his heart, and dedication, but I am firm in my position that he is a liability on the fireground.
                          AJ, MICP, FireMedic
                          Member, IACOJ.
                          FTM-PTB-EGH-DTRT-RFB-KTF
                          This message has been made longer, in part from a grant from the You Are a Freaking Moron Foundation.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            what great courage and dedication, but it really is a safety issue....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BLSboy View Post
                              Sorry Chief, gotta disagree with ya there.
                              Many places are moving away from the old systems, and you have to change towers, and visualize the channel you are on.
                              I commend his heart, and dedication, but I am firm in my position that he is a liability on the fireground.
                              Perhaps some systems, but not ours. He would simply know how to put the microphone to his mouth and talk. Press "home" and up button once, and you are on the fireground channel.

                              I would have loved having someone, anyone, at the command post with me talking on at least ONE of the three radios I had to listen to (sometimes four). It was a true distraction at times and took my eyes and attention off the fire building.

                              I think you are underestimating what some of these folks are capable of.
                              I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                              "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                              "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                              Comment

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