This has been bugging me for most of the day. My fire department was featured on a regional newscast and of course everyone showed up. Well my son who is 350lbs was in the background and someone made  a comment about his size on It didn't bother me that the comment was made because of the person who made. What bothered me was the fact that as a large person he was automatically discounted as a fire fighter. I've always been a lagre guy and I've always been able to do the job. When I wasn't I stopped.


But what about the skinny guy. Is he in shape or just skinny. Just because you don't have a big gut doesn't mean your in firefighting shape. It just means you have genetics that make you a certain size. My best friend always look like he was in shape until we raced once. He couldn't go telephone pole to telephone pole.


There was talk about giving physicals to FF's. My issue is what are they checking for, high blood pressure, good heart, eyesight, hearing? How about endurance, stamina and agility. You would be surprised how many people can't carry a role of hose 1000 feet.


Years ago on talk shop that I can't recall the name had a large FF and a model looking FF. And they asked people which one they would  want to save them. Of couse almost all picked the model looking FF. Well the fat FF had 20 years experience and was an officer of his department and the model was a proby. He even said he would pick the fat guy because of experiece.


Basically what I just spent 4 paragraghs writing is never judge a book by its cover.

Views: 5562

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I agree!  I have seen it in my area in the years where some of the newer college educated probies couldn't do as much as an older veteran on a dept.  The younger probie appeared to be fit to some people but couldn't pass the mustard in some areas.  Just my .02

ok i understand the whole fat vs skinny but think about this what is too skinny and what is too fat.  If a person is too skinny how do you expect that person to pull a healthy good size person out of danger, or how do you expect a person that is grossly over weight to be of any use in a working fire when they are using 20 to 30 min air tanks in 2 mins because they are out of breath.  There is a happy medium but unfortunately there is no way to tell someone that they are not fit for a volunteer dept. So what do you do?  One thing that would help is having a work out program in your department or an health fair to help people eat right and work out probably that is just some things that can be done but this is one of those subjects that you can arm chair quarterback for years and it is not going to change. 


Why do you say "there is no way to tell someone that they are not fit for a volunteer dept."?





if you had read all the post that i wrote you would have understood what i was saying, weather a person is fit or not fit in a volunteer department you can not tell them they can't join and fight fire.  That is a law suit waiting to happen we do not have the luxury of a paid department by setting a fitness standard and it hold up.  And by the way look at most paid departments i see alot of firefighters on paid departments that are out of shape and are getting fat so how can you judge a volunteer department for that. 

Volunteer or paid firefighters need to be at a certain level of physical abilty. I am not saying the a firefighter needs to have a six-pack or be a marathon runner. I know several firefighters that some would say are overweight, but could mop the floor with guys who LOOK like they are in shape.


I disagree that a volunteer department can't deny someone from joining. You saw that it could open them up to law suits, the reverse could also be true. If a departemtn alows someone to join that does not havethe physical capabilty and they end up gettting injured or worse, the family may decide that the department was at fault for allwong him to do a job that he was not capable of doing.


However, if a department has it written in their bylaws that firefighters must pass a physical ability test prior to being allowed to join and for that matter on an annual basis. I believe that most courts will side with the department in the event that they are sued for not allowing an out of shape person to join.

Being in "firefighter shape" does not mean that you have to look like "The Rock", it just means that you have to be at a certain stage of physical capability.

If someone is volunteering their time for a fire department, can you really apply the same employment standards in regard to physical abilities? I know there has to be room for people to do other less physical activities, whether they be response orientated or other things that have to be done to keep the department running smoothly. 

As for "So what do you do?"... Depends on what your departments culture is based on. If you are fat* with young volunteer firefighters, maybe you can afford to be more selective.

But I get the very distinct impression, being from a non volunteer jurisdiction, that getting qualified volunteer FF's isn't as easy as it may have once been. Couple that with training, time and experience and even though one of your FF's may suck dry a SCBA bottle, wouldn't you want to use these individuals in command / less physical positions? You can't discount their experience and passion for serving their community and helping out.

Kind of makes sense to me. It's not a perfect world, and not everyone can be Captain America, well maybe WestPhilly, Joe Stoltz, Mike France or Ben Waller, Oldman or Craig, but not the typical firefighter.

*Pun intended... :D

If someone is volunteering their time for a fire department, can you really apply the same employment standards in regard to physical abilities?


In short, yes. After all "we all do the same job" right? So why shouldn't the same standards be met?


Now, I understand the limitations and obstacles that volly depts see as opposed to FT, for one, getting people to join/stay is one factor whereas FT depts typically have enough interested parties to do the job. However, there should be physical standards that even a volunteer should meet and even an initial dept sponsored/paid physical for new members.


Now I disagree with the stereotyping which such a discussion does entail, becuae it is easy to look at the physical size of someone and believe they will be more of a liability etc, but reality is it isn't necessarily the case. Hence the reason there should be physical standards and requirements to meet.

We have alot of people commenting on this an overweight person may be able to do this job, but.... working as ateam is important and if you think like a team if you are overweight it is going to put more pressure on your team to pull you out if your worst day happens, then again if the skinny guy cant move the physically fit he needs to work his fitness also!
Its good to know I'm not the only big guy people are shocked when I tell them I jog 1to4 miles a week the doctors even shocked every time i go in they have done testing on me to pre I'm unhealthy but they all came back healthy so they did them two more times because they didn't believe it I am out of shape and will be the first to admit it but I am working on that for my self not because I can't do my job because can just as good as any one else .


I did read "all the post" that you wrote. Why would I understand what you were saying?Nowhere did you imply that fear of a lawsuit was the reason for your stating that you can't tell a volunteer he's not fit to join the department. (I actually thought you talking about further limiting the pool of prospective volunteers). Are you telling me there are no volunteer departments with fitness standards? What if that same physically unfit applicant isn't smart enough to fill out the application or to count up to ten without using his toes or fingers? Can't have academic standards either?

And it's not a "luxury" in paid departments to have a fitness standard - it's considered a necessity.


weather a person is fit or not fit in a volunteer department you can not tell them they can't join and fight fire. That is a law suit waiting to happen we do not have the luxury of a paid department by setting a fitness standard and it hold up


Bullshit. There is nothing stating that a volly FD has to take any person wanting to join either. Any dept, club, group, organization, whatever, can establish requirements for future members to meet, so the lawsuit waiting to happen argument is a fallacy. In those requirements it can say a person must be able to lift so much, be able to wear SCBA, be able to pass a physical exam, etc.



Those of us that are members of the Fort Worth Fire Department have to pass a yearly Stress-Test Physical in order to stay on the Truck.  This inlcudes, a TB Test, Blood Tests, a Drug Test, # of Pushups in a minute, # of Crunches in a minute, Flexibitity Test, Eye Exam, Lung Capacity Test, Hearing Test, Stress-Test on the Tread Mill with a 12 lead, and a visit with the Doctor.  If we don't pass the test, we are first placed on a PT program for 180 days at the station to try and pass, if not then, you are placed at Training on a 40 hour job status for 180 days with a PT workout daily to try and pass, and then possible termination if not able to pass after the second 180 day time frame.


Reply to Discussion


FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2019   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service